Discover activity relating to Van Dyck’s Self-portrait from the participation programme at Manchester Art Gallery.

Manchester Art Gallery commissioned Karrie Fransman’s Selves Portrait for the exhibition as a creative response to Van Dyck’s Self-portrait. The symbolic imagery found in Van Dyck’s frame and what this reveals about his identity inspired Fransman to put her own story ‘in the frame’. The story evolved to reflect the battle between her many selves and also represents the difficulty she faced in deciding which ‘self’ to present. It also narrates the internal battle of the creative process and the artist’s fear when faced with a blank page. In preparing to make the new self-portrait, Fransman looked at other examples of seventeenth century frames that are highly decorative and include figures of gods, creatures and plant forms. She was also inspired by the mythological paintings of Van Dyck and his contemporary, Rubens, with their vibrant portrayals of the battles between ancient gods.

Karrie Fransman is a comic artist and writer. Her autobiographical comic strips have been published in The Guardian, The Times, Time Out, The Telegraph and the New Statesman. She has produced two graphic novels, The House that Groaned and Death of the Artist.

This audio guide uses mindfulness-based techniques to enable you to slow down, look at and engage with Van Dyck’s Self-portrait. Mindfulness is a practice that engages the senses to encourage us to notice the present moment.

You are guided to stop, look and take notice by mindfulness practitioner Cathy Fortune, along with participants from Charlestown Community Primary School and mental health groups Creative Living Centre and Start in Manchester.

We invite you to observe your reactions, thoughts and emotions as you look at Van Dyck’s last self-portrait.

While this guide lasts only ten minutes, mindfulness sessions delivered at Manchester Art Gallery usually take thirty minutes, enabling visitors to fully engage and reflect.

This film introduces Manchester Art Gallery’s use of mindfulness-based techniques with their visitors.