Stories of faces captured by local artist

Published on 04 November 2022

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Local artist Caroline Graley, engaged as the portraiture artist for the recent Poetic Portraits project at Frankston Arts Centre, has shown the importance and value of creativity by kindly donating her portraits to each of the poets involved.

As an artist who has always loved making portraits, Caroline enjoys the process of observation, sensory recording and interpreting the human face using visual art mediums.

‘It is always a challenge to establish a likeness whilst also translating the less tangible feelings and character of a person, their mood and psychological colour and my perception of these.’

Poetic Portraits promoted poetry as a way to connect with and convey the experiences of women impacted by mental health struggles or other challenges to wellbeing.

'I was delighted to be part of this very special arts project in which women from the Frankston community were encouraged and supported to write very heart felt and personal poems,’ said Caroline.

Coordinated in collaboration with RMIT and part of The Big Anxiety 2022, the project and ensuing exhibition presented a series of poems accompanied by Caroline’s sketch portraits of the participants.

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The project involved two poetry-writing workshops for women who live in Frankston, led by poet Jennifer Harrison, along with one-on-one interviews with participants to connect with and listen more effectively to women’s voices within the community.

Caroline then worked with the facilitators and participants to draw a portrait of each of the writers, which captured not only their face, but also their spirit and presence.

‘I endeavoured to convey the uniqueness of each poet whilst translating a little of their story's and feelings through line and tone in my portraits of them,’ she explains.

Commencing each portrait by studying the photos she had received of each poet, Caroline made preliminary sketches to get a sense of the person and establish proportions and a likeness, before completing the portrait in charcoal and pastel.

‘Several of the portraits I drew a couple of times to achieve the result I was after. I wished to show a strong likeness, plus my perception of their individual character.’

The portraits each featured a small item or object that the poets identified within their writing, as something symbolic for them.

‘The addition of the poets' chosen objects was an interesting challenge to incorporate into the works. I decided to primarily use line work for these to suggest that the objects presence was more in the form of a thought which was connected to the person visually by a light, delicate tracery of lines to suggest it was still in their imaginative realm.’

The Poetic Portraits exhibition opened to much acclaim and celebration from participants and guests, reading their poetry and sharing their portrait with family and friends. The exhibition closed on November 2.

At the completion of the exhibition, Caroline has kindly donated the portrait to the writers involved, as a memento of their engagement. The participants also received a published copy of their poetry, produced by RMIT for the project.

We thank Caroline sincerely for her engagement in the project and for her very generous artistic gift.

To find out more about Caroline’s work, you can visit her website here.

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