1 of 4 portraits matching 'tim noble'
© Tim Noble and Sue Webster. All Rights Reserved, DACS, 2023. Image: © National Portrait Gallery
by Tim Noble, by Sue Webster
taxidermy, wood, fake moss, light projector and installation template, 2002
61 in. x 19 5/8 in. x 19 5/8 in. (1550 mm x 500 mm x 500mm)
Given by Tim Noble, Sue Webster and the estate of Isabella Blow, 2009
Sitterback to top
- Isabella Blow (Isabella Delves Broughton) (1958-2007), Fashion journalist and editor. Sitter in 3 portraits.
Artistsback to top
This portraitback to top
In this portrait, a spotlight transforms an amorphous collection of objects into a silhouette of Blow's head. The artists were fascinated by what they saw as Blow's gothic quality and chose to depict her as though on a stake. Included in the sculpture are a stuffed raven and rat, in addition to Blow's trademark lipstick and one of her own Manolo Blahnik shoes.
The acquisition of this unusual portrait of Isabella Blow posed unprecedented questions for the Gallery surrounding display and longevity. The portrait is a combination of sculpture, installation and light projection and presents a silhouette of Blow's head, created by a simple spotlight shone on an apparently amorphous ball of objects. It includes fifteen taxidermy animals, including birds, a rat and a snake, in addition to the sitter’s trademark lipstick and one of her own Manolo Blahnik shoes. In making the portrait, the artists were fascinated by what they saw as Blow's gothic, medieval quality and chose to depict her as though on a stake, using ravens and the particular species of rat that is connected with the Black Death. When initially considering the work for acquisition, Gallery curators recognised that it was a fascinating depiction of the sitter in a highly original form. However, given the inevitable consideration of the long-term care that such a complex piece would involve, it was not a straightforward question for the Gallery.
The Gallery needed to know technical details about the creation of the work, such as which preservatives had been used for treating the animals, in order to ensure that no toxic chemicals had been applied. It was also important for the Gallery to know whether elements of the work that are crucial to the silhouette could be replaced or fixed back on if they were to fall off. Other considerations included what the best storage for the work was, how regularly condition checking should take place, how the work should be dusted and how pest infestation could be prevented.
The curators consulted conservators at the Natural History Museum who specialise in taxidermy animals as well as an independent taxidermist, and a number of recommendations were made and a set of guidelines for display and maintenance were created. This enabled the Gallery to proceed with the acquisition with a plan for the future care of the work in order to ensure its long-term preservation. When the work was acquired the silhouette of the object was traced and diagrams of the head from different angles were made so that if an element ever does fall off it can be fixed back on in the correct position. The work is now stored and displayed in climate-controlled conditions and regularly checked for pests.
Linked publicationsback to top
- Ribeiro, Aileen; Blackman, Cally, A Portrait of Fashion: Six Centuries of Dress at the National Portrait Gallery, 2015, p. 261
- Various contributors, National Portrait Gallery: A Portrait of Britain, 2014, p. 123
Linked displays and exhibitionsback to top
Events of 2002back to top
Current affairs2002 was an eventful year for the Royal Family, highlighted by the Queen's Golden Jubilee celebrations, but marred by the death of Princess Margaret, followed just three months later by the death of Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother at the age of 101 (making her the longest lived royal in British History).
Art and scienceThe relationship between two of the greatest modern masters is celebrated in Tate Modern's blockbuster exhibition Matisse Picasso. By exhibiting their works side-by-side, the show revealed the relationship between the two artists from 1906-54.
The 'Party at the Palace' concert in celebration of the Queen's Jubilee brings together stars from the last 50 years of Pop: Paul McCartney, Tom Jones, Brian Wilson, Queen, Ozzy Osbourne and Elton John.