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Putting Myself in the Picture

October 1, 2010

I have always wanted to hang pictures at the National Gallery. Ever since I started work there on January 4 1972 as a very lowly Research Assistant Grade 2, it has been a big ambition. At last, this week, I got my chance.  Michael Clarke, the Director, has given the Portrait Gallery the first two rooms of the National Gallery to hang a trailer for Portrait of the Nation and to introduce Put Yourself in the Picture, our new fundraising campaign.

Portrait of the Nation

So on Monday I was there with our Handling Team, the National Galleries’ specialist picture-hangers and sculpture-movers, to start seeing the works of art I had selected installed. The rooms are great, grand, handsome spaces hung with crimson felt and I think our portraits look tremendous there.  The biggest surprise was how good Ken Currie’s The Oncologists looks against this red background.  I don’t think the painting has ever looked so well.

Portrait of the Nation

Here is the Handling Team during a break on the first day standing in front of the glamorous Duchess of Hamilton and her greyhound. To the side is Allan Ramsay’s portrait of his friend the philosopher David Hume, waiting to be hung. I have had huge help from fellow blogger Sarah Saunders from our Education Department, and we have jointly written the accompanying labels.  The exhibition will include film (with Ken Currie talking about his painting) and a recording of one of Lady Nairne’s most famous songs, Caller Herrin’.  There will be photographs of the current state of building work and, most importantly of all, we introduce Put Yourself in the Picture. For just £50 anyone can download their photograph onto our website.  It’s a great idea. You can choose to put yourself in, as I have done, or get a group of friends together (still only £50!) or remember someone special. Susan Diamond, our Head of Fundraising, came up with this clever and jolly idea – with all photographs uploaded to Put Yourself in the Picture to be on show in the Portrait Gallery when we reopen in November next year.

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