by Gillian Wearing
gelatin silver print, 2011
36 5/8 in. x 31 1/2 in. (929 mm x 800 mm)
Commissioned; made possible by J.P. Morgan through the Fund for New Commissions, 2011
Sitterback to top
- Sharmishta ('Shami') Chakrabarti, Baroness Chakrabarti (1969-), Lawyer and human rights campaigner; director of Liberty; life peer. Sitter in 2 portraits.
This portraitback to top
Taken with a large-format camera, the sitter is shown holding a wax mask of herself which hangs from a ribbon. The notion of the 'mask' has previously occupied Wearing but, in this case, the idea was prompted by the sitter, who commented in their first meeting that her public persona is mask-like, often interpreted as 'grim', 'worthy' and 'strident'.
Linked publicationsback to top
- 100 Portraits, p. 152
- Various contributors, National Portrait Gallery: A Portrait of Britain, 2014, p. 278 Read entry
Since 2003 Shami Chakrabarti has been the director of the influential human rights pressure group Liberty, becoming a spokesperson for issues relating to civil liberties. Born in London, of Indian heritage, Chakrabarti studied Law at the London School of Economics. She was called to the Bar in 1994, before joining the Home Office as a lawyer, where she contributed to the implementation of the Human Rights Act. Chakrabarti is portrayed holding a wax mask of her own face hanging from a ribbon.
Exploring the disparity between public and private identities, the mask is a feature of the work of Turner Prize-winning artist Gillian Wearing (b.1963). In the case of this portrait, however, the idea was prompted by the sitter, who commented upon first meeting the artist that her public persona is mask-like, often interpreted as ‘grim’, ‘worthy’ and ‘strident’. The mask was sculpted from a digital scan of the sitter’s head and included glass eyes. Chakrabarti was photographed in black and white using a large format camera, an approach that replicates the static sobriety of Victorian portrait photography.