About Family Faces


Supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund

Family Faces was the second exhibition in the National Portrait Gallery's community initiative Reaching Out, Drawing In.

Families from the London Borough of Haringey worked alongside ceramicist Matt Sherratt to create clay sculptures that represented their families.

The participants visited the National Portrait Gallery to explore family portraits in the collection. They then took part in a series of workshops to make their own artwork.

These sculptures and a selection of the portraits that inspired them were displayed side by side in this exhibition. Each work was accompanied by the participants' interpretations, offering an insight into the lives of the families.

The project

Over sixty families took part in the Family Faces project. They were all part of Haringey's Parental Involvement Programme, based in seven different schools.

Family Faces took place over a six-month period. The aim was for family members to work together to create a sculpture representing their families. Children worked alongside parents, carers, grandparents and siblings.

The families participated in a series of workshops:

  • First they visited the Gallery, exploring and sketching family portraits. They focused on The Shudi Family Group by Marcus Tuscher and The Sharp Family by Johan Zoffany.
  • Back at school they designed their sculptures.
  • The next few sessions were spent making sculptures. They chose either to work in air-drying clay, or clay that would need to be fired in a kiln.
  • After the sculptures had either dried or been fired. Those that worked with air-drying clay used poster paints. Families who worked with fired clay used special glazes. After glazing, the sculptures were fired again making them shine.
  • Finally the families wrote their own label to accompany their sculpture.

The families involved in this project were all part of Haringey's Parental Involvement Programme based at the following schools: Chestnuts Primary School; Crowland Primary School; Highgate Primary School; Kurdish and Somali Community Supplementary School; North Harringay Primary School; South Harringay Infants School and Stamford Hill Primary School.

The exhibition

Family Faces displayed 90 sculptures that had been made by the participating families. They offered a varied and personal insight into the lives of the families that took part and were accompanied by the participants' interpretations.

Alongside the sculptures was a selection of portraits from the Gallery's collections that inspired the families during the project. These included The Shudi Family Group by Marcus Tuscher and The Fine Children of Charles I after Sir Anthony Van Dyck.

Visitors to the exhibition were invited to participate in a number of activities including making fuzzy-felt faces and jigsaws, dressing-up clothes and a reading area.