When you stare @ me you are looking at yourself – 1998 – 2005
Oil on linen – 75 x 100cm
In 1998, eighty five year old Elinor Owen agreed to pose for her portrait in the nude. An artist herself, she understood the imperative for an observation of the ageing process on the body. Elinor Owen (then Elinor Dennis) had studied at the National Art School in the late nineteen thirties.
We discussed the issues of the nude portrayal of the female body at length. While photographs of aged bodies abound, we concluded that it was a rarity to pictorially depict an aged body in painting. But we both felt that it would be a worthwhile exercise.
Issues of sagging were overcome in the composition with what we agreed was an eloquent solution – the only sop to vanity. It was important to position the figure frontally, in a somewhat confronting and engaging manner. Elinor’s gaze is fixed on the viewer. Here we have a supremely confident individual, unabashed at being unclothed and potentially in full public view. Elinor is no objectivized victim of the male gaze but rather holds her own, proclaiming her and our shared humanity as we all confront the inevitable process of ageing.
Elinor passed away in 2006 at the venerable age of 93