This exhibition of large-scale paintings by Leeds-based artist Paul Digby portrays people enacting the emotion of joy. Participants were photographed and the images then manipulated by Digby before being translated through the painting process over a period of twelve months in the artist’s studio.
Digby’s research for the project is centred around Charles Darwin’s ‘Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals’ (1872). In this publication Darwin uses photographs made by French neurologist Duchenne de Boulogne of ‘The Old Man’. Boulogne attached electrodes to a man who allegedly had no nerve endings in his face (and therefore could not feel pain) to create facial expressions.
The participants in Digby’s paintings were selected via an open call facilitated by Leeds Adult Social Care. The artist has a personal interest in what he calls ‘outsider-ness’ and the world in which people with disabilities enter when they are admitted into social care. Despite the seriousness of this and the often negative headlines of abuse and care centre closures, these places are often an important focal point of social interaction. Portraits of Emotions is a celebration of the humour and joy of people who inhabit these environments.
The project was supported by the Workers Education Association, Leeds Adult Social Care and Charity groups.
The second floor hosts a selection of drawings produced by school children in a series of workshops which Digby undertook within local primary schools.
The children were taught basic portrait drawing techniques such as cross hatching, light and dark study, proportions and asked to draw either themselves or a friend in response to the emotion of happiness. The workshops were facilitated by the artist with the the assistance of Leeds Beckett University Fine Art students, Sarah-Ann Maden and Serena Comrie.
The schools involved were Chapel Allerton Primary, Blenheim Primary, Leeds City Academy and Little London Primary. The children created approximately 200 drawings in total and the selection included in the exhibition were chosen by the artist, Artforms staff and The Tetley curatorial team to be exhibited alongside the large-scale painting works that make up this exhibition.
The project was supported by Artforms.