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Bringing Portraits to Life!

September 23, 2011

How time has flown! It seems only a few weeks ago that I started my new role as Learning Coordinator for the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, but glancing across at my calendar I can see that I have been in post for several months now! I can’t believe it – not long to go until the November re-opening, so I had better get my skates on.  I manage the family and community programmes and projects as well as coordinating the new learning spaces at the Portrait Gallery. It’s a fabulous opportunity and I’m really enjoying being part of the Education team.

Before joining National Galleries of Scotland, I worked at the National Museum of Scotland – another brilliant re-development project. Unfortunately I left before I got the chance to peek inside the museum, so I am delighted to say, that I am actually writing this blog from within the walls of the transformed Scottish National Portrait Gallery. We have officially moved back in and there’s quite a buzz about the place with the first exhibitions being installed and staff unpacking in their new offices – what a place to come to work in the morning! Seeing some of the portraits ‘in the flesh’ (so to speak) has really brought home to me the wonderfully rich potential of the collection for families.

The new purpose-built education suite

The new purpose-built education suite

One of the approaches I am developing for family audiences is to invite storytellers, re-enactors and actors, as well as artists to bring the portraits to life and offer new perspectives. I love the idea of walking, talking portraits, but even more than that, I like the idea of offering playful ways of exploring and interrogating well-known characters and works of art. I’d like families to help re-create some of the portraits, decide ‘What happened next?’ and to get involved using costumes, music, props and lots of imagination. To this end I’m creating a new regular Sunday afternoon drop-in activity called Meet the Ancestors. It will join its illustrious colleagues Portrait Detectives (currently at the Scottish National Gallery, but to transfer to the Scottish National Portrait Gallery from November) Art Cart (at the Scottish National Gallery) and Bags of Art (at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art). This means that there will be something happening for families at the National Galleries of Scotland every weekend throughout the year.

Portrait Detectives at the Scottish National Gallery, photograph by Alicia Bruce

In addition to this there will be a fun new trail to take families on a journey around the Portrait Gallery. This will be part of a suite of free, themed trails developed to let different groups, including community groups, schools and adults to explore the new galleries, making new and unexpected discoveries along the way.

I can’t wait to see the first members of the public walk through those doors!

2 Comments leave one →
  1. October 4, 2011 7:10 pm

    My wife is a direct relation of The Hon Mary Graham who married Thomas Graham, later General Sir Thomas Graham, Lord Lynedoch. Her portrait, by Thomas Gainsborough, is in the National Gallery and is oft referred to as The Beautiful Mrs Graham

    This year is the 200th Anniversary of the Battle of Barrosa in Spain, won by Graham in March 2011. I have lectured on the Life and Times of Lord Lynedoch and his wife, in the Hawthornden Lecture Hall this year.

    Yours sincerely

    Colin Innes

    Major C.B.Innes, Inchlaggan, Ardoch, Murthly, Perthshire, PH1 4HB
    Tel:01738-710014
    Mobile: 07715-580268
    Email: colin.innes@btopenworld.com

  2. October 4, 2011 7:11 pm

    I trust this message arrives. Please email me saying that you have received it.

    Colin Innes

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