Faceless Portrait: The Very Centre

Faceless Portrait: The Very Centre, is my submission for the Sussex Open 2017.

Using digital space and objects, in a digital 3D environment, I am exploring its potential to weave a narrative to examine the sense of self in a portrait. The images enclosing the bust present aspects of personality, while camouflaging and then influencing our perception of the image. The face is disrupted, but not excluded – it is a faceless portrait.

Inside looking out.
I collect, make, and see.
My face is not me.

The very centre.
Dad is every thing I am.
Nothing left unused.


Lost in Execution: Nexilis Weave One and Nexilis Weave Two

May 2017 and two pieces from the `Lost in Execution’ series were selected to be part of `A Splash of Colour’, a contemporary watercolour exhibition at Murmurations Gallery, Bexhill.

Nexilis Weave One and Nexilis Weave Two
Media: Watercolour with digital media
Size: 25 x 33 in

Nexilis is a cyclical exploration of the balance between pattern and chaos. I explore an idea circling around its centre in a series of tangents both approaching and withdrawing. The tangents interweave locking into each other. Earlier explorations creating warp and weft for the future.


Faceless Portraits: Seeming Restriction and Random Compromise

Faceless Portraits now looks at another role – another narrative that is an integrated part of my life. The digital head remains the same but a different camouflage image is imposed. This is Seeming Restriction (FP02)

Each Faceless Portrait is a separate book in a series – a new narrative as I examine this individual’s life and my sense of self. 

In Random Compromise (FP06), I enclosed the head in a virtual `glass case’. To encase something in a glass is to present the contained object as precious and so requiring protection. It presents a physical barrier to full access at the cost of a visual one. It suggests a perceived value but this is redundant in a digital environment where there is no physical access. In the digital world, this encasement is purely a narrative device.

Interestingly, as I am the subject of this representation, placing the head in a glass box induced an unexpected sense of claustrophobia.

Faceless Portraits: Father-Son Bonding

The initial head I created in Blender, was a generic head – little more than a balloon shape. So I made a representation of a specific individual: however the self-portrait was all about the objects placed on the “head”. With this head, I wanted a classic 3D bust as the starting point.

Having made a digital, yet traditional, representation of a head I looked to camouflage it with a set of photographic images from `Faceless Portraits’ a series of photographs I produced in November last year and shared on Twitter.

Inside looking out
I collect, make, do and see.
My face is not me.

The images wrapped around the face present aspects of personality that are missing from a traditional portrait, but they also camouflage and influence perception. This process of influence based around the most easily perceived aspect is usually with the face as the principal influence.

The wrapped image reveals something of the person without the traditional access of a sculpted head. The resulting image disrupts rather than excludes the face.


In following the traditional form of display, the head is placed upon a pedestal. It becomes a gallery item but it has no physical reality. The 3D pedestal becomes an object on which to place the head and also a surface on which to place text; just as would be seen in a traditional gallery.


I am playing with the metaphor of the form of gallery display. I am questioning issues to do with reality and its representational narrative. What is the nature of narrative in the digital world?

Intervention: Exploring Light in Digital 3D

I extended my exploration of Blender to translate into 3D elements a post from Groyne 55. I used the top and side of a single post to create a simple, abstract, 3D model. This was not an attempt at accurate physical observation but an abstraction to project a sense of its three-dimensionality. To accentuate this aspect of abstraction the textures are were wrapped around a disc, a lozenge shape, and placed on the top of the post. I now had a simple 3D object.

Using Blender I lit the 3D object to create a `spectral’ lighting effect, reminiscent of moisture or dust in the atmosphere. I extended the effect to the area surrounding the object.

I used this model to generate some high-resolution 2D images; “photographing” the digital 3D environment.

These images were used as the foundation for some mezzo-tint mono-prints. I then photographed the prints and recombined them digitally with elements of the 3D render.


This cyclical iteration between physical and digital media, between representation and abstraction has at its core a single question; what is real?