The portraits have been created in public by Lucy Burscough during her residency at Maggie’s Cancer Support Centre at The Christie Hospital. Centre visitors were welcome to chat to Lucy about her work as they watched the paintings develop.
As someone who looks at faces for her job, Burscough is interested in what happens when someone experiences cancer which alters their appearance. If the face changes, how does that affect one’s sense of self? Her subjects speak of being acutely aware of the gaze of others, in the street or at their work, and they recognise that people’s eyes can naturally be drawn to people whose faces are unusual. Becoming the subject of a portrait under these circumstances is an empowering act of defiance and welcoming people to look at one’s face, scars and all, is an invitation to acknowledge a shared humanity and triumph over this indiscriminate illness.
When one takes on the role of ‘patient’ or ‘cancer survivor’, and facets of our identity that we hold dear: jobs, hobbies or social activities, may fade into the background, our sense of who we are can take a knock. The artworks chosen from The Whitworth’s collection by the subjects to be displayed alongside their portraits, have been selected to reflect their wider identities and illustrate cherished aspects of who they are.
Funded by Arts Council England awarding funds from The National Lottery.
Image: Lucy Burscough, Graeme, 2017. Copyright the artist.