It’s great to be back working with the learning officers from the Hadrian’s Wall sites again, this time on a wall-wide collaboration funded through the Arts Council England. The Wallface Exhibition programme has eleven portraits of antiquarians from the National Portrait Gallery are being hosted at museums along the World Heritage Site. I’m working to develop a KS3 learning resource using these images to help explore how people have used imagery to promote themselves from Roman images found on coins and tombstones on sites through to the selfies and profile pics we all take and become known by today.
In the past only the rich or the highly regarded could have their portrait made. The earliest in the exhibition is a 1609 oil painting of William Camden and the most recent is a photograph of Sir Ian Richmond from 1965. The images are diverse – with classically styled watercolour of William Stukeley to the caricature of Egyptologist Sir Ernest Budge. The Roman objects range from the tombstone of the freedwoman Regina, wife of a rich merchant, to coins of Emperors used as disseminating propaganda and highlighting fashions and hairstyles made popular in Rome by their wives.
Today, almost everyone has a camera in their pocket, and selfies are ubiquitous across social media. But how do people chose to portray themselves? What meanings are we trying to convey? What do we choose to wear, hold and pose near? How accurate will they be in predicting our own ambition and legacy?
Also rather pleased that I’ve been able to bring in Hadrian’s Wall country artist Ruby Dale to work on this project.