Several times during my previous life, it was suggested by very good artists, that they would like to paint or draw my portrait. So where are they?
Obviously I was flattered that in some way they saw something interesting and worth investigating but what exactly was it? My first tingle of interest and intrigue was each time doused by the thought that they just might see the very thing I was trying so hard to hide though such thoughts were mixed with a dangerous dream that such a portrait of me could unveil the hidden me and set me free. Somewhere there is a photograph made by a well respected artist photographer of me and my partner. I had known this person for a long time and felt that such a short exposure to scrutiny by a lens could not be as revealing as one done during a long sitting in front of someone with pencil, paints or in one case a woman who could create fantastic images by cutting through multiple sheets of different coloured paper. It would have been fascinating just to watch the last artist at her work.
The photograph has been hidden away for perhaps a decade now, just at what stage of my transformation it was taken I have completely forgotten. If it was too early or dread the thought just pre the start of transition I do not think I would want to see it now. I certainly worried about the photographer visiting again and wondering where it was since I could never bring myself to frame up an image which would be a reminder of a couple now changed. Such a reminder could only cause negative thoughts for my partner who has stuck by me but still misses being part of that long lost couple...
British artist Grayson Perry, perhaps known to you through collecting their prestigious national Turner Prize dressed in a theatrical drag costume, an artist who works with ideas of identity and is showing work in the London National Portrait Gallery on the subject. A television programme about the series of portraits in various mediums has just been broadcast and for a limited period will be available online. I am sorry that I do not know if it will be available worldwide but no doubt it will soon find itself posted on a video site somewhere... There is also an online Guardian piece about him.
With a title like "Who are You" it will come as no surprise that somewhere in there will be a gender identity issue. There would have been a time when i would have obsessively seemed every possible reference to transgender issues but this one I came across just because I really like this artist's vision, I hope you do too.