Self Portraits with the Hidden Project

We’re back running the Hidden Project for  young people aged 11-16 at the Art Flat in Broomhill. In the last block we spent a lot of time using animation and photography, and also spent some time looking at self-expression and reflection. It is this that we’ll be returning to in the new block.

We’ve begun by looking at some alternative and expressive self-portraits by well-know artists and other young people.


There is something so satisfying about seeing a repeated motif and composition… Although all of the portraits are individual and express something unique, the aesthetic of displaying them side-by-side is rhythmic and builds a pattern.

Dawn Hair, freelance artist working with RIG Arts on this project began by making a copy of Basquiat’s ‘Self-Portrait as a Heel’. We want to show how making a self-portrait isn’t simply about making a realistic copy of your face, but expressing something hidden beneath the skin, or how we see ourselves in the world. Bright colours, ragged lines, text and texture can all help to do this.


While Dawn made a copy of an existing work to gain an understanding of form and content, I decided to attempt a self-portrait in the style of one of the examples. I am not a naturally good drawer, and so I decided to trace a ‘selfie’, to get a feel for line and shape. My goal is to then translate this into a vector drawing as seen in one of the examples. Although the original artist used a computer programme to render their image, I will create mine by hand. Again, we want to show that to make a self-portrait doesn’t require a lot of technical skill, only a creative eye and consideration.

We only had one young person attending on Thursday (probably due to it being the first session back!) and although she didn’t work on producing her own self-portrait this session, opting to decorate her sketchbook instead, she printed off a ‘selfie’ she had used on Facebook, showing us both the original and the edited image. We have no objection to this, as self-portraiture as we understand it is about presenting yourself as you want to be seen, or exploring something within yourself, so a Facebook selfie makes perfect sense, as perhaps the most public virtual representation of ourselves.

Follow up next week when we’ll have developed our self-portraits even more.

The Hidden Project is open to all young people aged 11-16 and runs from 3-5pm on Thursday at the Art Flat, 12 Broomhill Court, PA15 4HE.




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