Archives for posts with tag: Self-portrait


In my new space, as yet sparsely furnished (and I hope to keep it pretty minimalist), I am unconsciously using my time differently.

I don’t have a TV, nor plan to. I also seem to watch much fewer movies, something that used consume much of my time in London (although I did watch this wonderful film on MUBI last night, JÚLIA IST). There is a cool cinema near where I live – I have recently seen RBG (great), Hereditary (not sure why I went to see this, curiosity I guess, not uninteresting) – but I seem to be more drawn to creating something myself, writing. I fantasize about writing using an original Olivetti. I have even found a store here that reclaims and restores them. Soon, I hope. The wonderful thing about living alone is that I can prioritize needs in a purely self-indulgent way.

I am doing a poetry writing course, which I am loving. Every Sunday morning I head to the Bowery, were 8 / 10 of us gather, with a tutor, and workshop poems and ideas. We have spent time walking the streets, gathering inspiration from the novel and the mundane, and this weekend we head to The Metropolitan Museum of Art for some ekphrastic poetry writing, which I am very excited about.

By the end of the course, I hope to have a portfolio of poems in various draft forms, but all around the theme of Self-Portrait.

I share the first – and most raw – below, and as yet untitled (though, in line with my spartan apartment, I may stick with the “Untitled” title).



Red lipstick on thin, narrow lips.

A family legacy.

She peers through black-framed glasses.


She likes them.

They are kind to ageing eyes,

and offer her a bigger version

of the world she is hungry for.


Black on red. Cartoon-like.

Or maybe it’s Chaplin.


Red splits apart, revealing

misshapen and unforgiving teeth.

Quirky, she thinks, kindly.


She smiles at herself, and whispers,

“Yes, I am ready.”



A self-portrait, which was partially destroyed by its creator, the Scottish artist Craigie Aitchison, has been bought by the National Portrait Gallery. (

The artist apparently slashed the work when a friend commented that the portrait was ‘flattering’. Aitchison was persuaded by Martin Wyld, Head of Conservation at the National Gallery, to allow restoration of the painting, yet at the same time retaining the laceration markings. The relined painting, with the slashings clearly visible, remained in the artist’s possession until his death in 2009.

Aitchison’s large body of work is very distinctive. He tended to zone in on specific elements, for example animals and birds, portraying them in ‘simplified’ depictions, which were vibrantly coloured.

He was particularly interested in the Crucifixion, which is the focus of many of his works. These paintings tend to focus on Christ on the Cross as the sole element in the piece, and, perhaps unusually, the colours remain vivid and bright, far from the sombre tones that more usually define works of art on this theme.

Aitchison viewed the Crucifixion as pivotal to human experience:

“The Crucifixion is the most horrific story I’ve ever heard,” he said. “They were all ganging up against one person. As long as the world exists one should attempt to record that. It was so unfair.” (