What do portraits say? – A project at y Gaer Courtroom

Portraits always carry a voice. They tell a powerful story of what an artist and their subject want to say to the world about themselves, their lives and what is important to them. The portraits and busts which are usually on display in the y Gaer Courtroom in Brecon tell one kind of story, can we tell another?

Larks & Ravens, worked with students from Brecon Beacons College to explore and create their own stories for the Courtroom portraits – who were these men? what does their clothing, objects and the backdrop say about their characters and what mattered to them?

The students imagined new stories inspired by objects from the Museum’s collection ….. Colonel Thomas Wood becoming bored sitting in his office and heading off to hunt a Dodo only to discover there were no more – he’d killed the last one. Lord Glanusk apparently failing a school exam and ending up going to France to live and Stanley Bligh apparently arrogant as a result of being sensitive about his short stature and deeply offended by a book “The Little Duke” which he encountered in the school library. y Gaer friends, William Gibbs and Mervyn Bramley then shared with the students the historical stories of the same men.

Finally, we invited the students to create their own self-portraits so they could bring their voices and stories into this space. In response, we ‘masked out’ the historical portraits for the period of the exhibition to give space for a different voice.

We invite you to visit the Courtroom to enjoy the students’ stunning art and reflect on the fresh perspective they bring to this place. What do they say to us about themselves, their world and what’s important to them?

The Exhibition of alternative portraits will be on display from March 24th until April 5th 2022 in the Courtroom at y Gaer in Brecon.

We thank the ‘Winter of Wellbeing’ for funding the project.