I have just returned from the most amazing weekend in Belfast after seeing my portrait hanging in an art gallery!
My portrait was painted, along with 15 other prominent trans people, by South African born artist Frans Gertenbach (above) for an exhibition called “The Portrait of People”, launched at Artcetera Studio in Belfast. Frans said “The Portrait of People exhibition’s aim is to introduce the trans person to the general public. 16 volunteers have come forward to be part of the message of The Portrait of People, for the viewers to take the opportunity to learn, accept and understand the transgender community and who they really are.”
Frans starkly captured the essence and character of his subjects and in front of each painting, he displayed a short text from the subject (which was mainly handwritten). The text allowed us to tell the viewers much more of who we are, as being trans is only one part of us. Here’s the text I wrote…
And here’s my portrait…
This photo doesn’t do the painting justice, as it has so much more depth to it when you see it for real. Frans has captured my likeness really well. The only difference now though, is that I have grown my hair a lot since Frans painted me. That’s lockdown for you!
When Frans was looking for suitable subjects for his exhibition, he teamed up with Lucy and Avril Clark from Trans Radio UK to help him in his quest. I was so honoured that they put my name forward to be one of the chosen few. It’s a surreal feeling when you see a huge painting of yourself hanging in a gallery. Now I know how the Queen feels. I feel the need to have some Corgis now…
Here are some of the other subjects and some of the volunteers who helped to make the exhibition happen:
Many of the other subjects were already my friends as most of them also do amazing things for the trans community and we all know each other, so it was fabulous to be able to spend some time with them. We had such a fun time and we had so many laughs as they are such a great bunch of people. The hangover was worth definitely it! Also, I can’t thank Frans and Jacques enough for their incredibly generous hospitality. They looked after us all so well.
The Portrait of People exhibition sends out such a strong message that trans people are just ordinary people who want to be happy. We have many skills and we come from all walks of life. We just happen to be trans too.
The exhibition is at Artcetera Gallery, Rosemary Street, Belfast until 14th august 2021.