Link to Guardian's website - 'Unofficial Royal Portraits'
Between a preserved world of tradition and ceremony and a contemporary one of media scrutiny and celebrity culture, between the public and the personal, Prince William encapsulates the challenges that face the Royal Family. He is open and engaged in pictures and interviews, but as heir to the throne, seemingly, inevitably ungraspable and out of reach.
Theres a balance between remoteness and intimacy working from video stills selected from the internet. The watercolour studies become decontextualised moments; the composite portrait is composed of different expressions, each with the eyes shut, suggesting contemplation, calmness, fleeting ecstasy or even sorrow. When making the paintings, my imagination was filled with a kind of accentuated sense of Prince William. I like this idea of developing you own imagined knowledge of someone, through the act of painting, exploring a sense of insight and connection.
I'm interested in my experience of making the work and how this translates to its viewing. With his eyes shut there seems to be a greater sense of his inner thoughts, how this is a spur to the imagination. The closed lids are a barrier that might make you want to approach and go beyond. There's also something challenging about painting from a very low-resolution image. You have to interpret more, invent and embellish; to a certain extent the contours of his face become constructed in the mind's eye, like a strange vivid dream of being in the company of someone famous, where you start to have a sense that you, in someway, know them.
When you paint someone using red watercolour it seems simultaneously fragile but visceral. There is the notion of blue blood to differentiate the aristocracy or royalty, but I like the association with actual blood, emphasising the more fundamental truth and connection to with Prince William as another person.