Portraits Untold in Birmingham

via Chris for PortraitsUntold

Stories to be told in Birmingham as part of nationwide portrait events

Critically acclaimed artist and filmmaker John Akomfrah OBE participates in the first of a series of live portrait sittings by award-winning artist Tanya Raabe-Webber at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery this summer, exploring and celebrating the diversity of our common humanity.

Portraits Untold, funded by Arts Council England and in partnership with The Big Draw and other national venues including National Portrait Gallery will see acclaimed disabled artist Tanya Raabe-Webber undertake the first of the live portrait sittings at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery on Saturday 16 July with the respected artist and founding member of the influential Black Audio Film Collective. Their first film, Handsworth Songs (1986) explored the events surrounding the 1985 riots in Birmingham and London through a combination of archive footage, still photos and newsreel.


The sitting will take place in front of a live audience, who are encouraged to draw their own portraits of the sitter and explore their own creativity and diversity through traditional drawing and the use of digital drawing apps. The sitting will also involve a series of discussions about the lives of the two artists and their thoughts on diversity, which audiences will be able to take part in.

The event, which will also be streamed live online, has been devised to reach new audiences through a variety of platforms to make art more accessible – something that artist Tanya Raabe-Webber feels strongly about.

Midlands based Tanya Rabbe-Webber said: “As a disabled artist, the notion of my own diversity drives my interest in people and my belief that everyone has the potential to be creative if given the opportunity. I have developed this project to enable creativity to be as accessible as possible and am excited by the idea that both the physical and online audiences get to engage in the production of new work. I can’t wait to see how John Akomfrah’s story unfolds.”

Portraits Untold will take place in the Round Room at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery across three two-hour sittings. Throughout the sitting, Tanya will fuse digital and traditional drawings and versions of the audience’s drawings with her own to create a multi-layered portrait. Drawing materials will be provided, and audience members with smart phones and devices such as tablets are encouraged to download free drawing apps such as Sketch Book Pro before coming to the event.

Audiences, both live and watching online will be able to send their digital and digitised drawings through to the artist on the day through social media.

Andy Fowles, Learning and Access Manager at Birmingham Museums Trust, said: “Portraits Untold is a unique and inspiring project and we are delighted that Tanya will be using the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery as the stage for her sitting with John Akomfrah, who has strong connection to Birmingham through his film ‘Handsworth Songs’.

“We are always exploring exciting ways to reach new and diverse audiences and this session offers a truly immersive and engaging experience for those who attend on the day, but also through the online stream. The event will be a real celebration of culture and diversity and we look forward to seeing Tanya’s work and the creative responses that come through on the day.”

Portraits Untold will take place across three other well-known venues with high profile sitters from July – October. At the end of the project, the completed portraits will go on display in each venue. For more information, visit portraitsuntold.co.uk. Like Portraits Untold on Facebook at www.facebook.com/portraitsuntold and follow twitter.com/PortraitsUntold on Twitter.

This is not a sponsored post.