Alter Ego with Victoria Heald

“Victoria Heald’s work aims to communicate an intensity of the painted figure through pose, gesture, expression and look. The changing surfaces, materials and compositions heighten the figurative image in each piece. Her recent filmic series referenced different cachets and seductively rich imagery of cinema from 1940s – 60s. She has used personal contacts as models to create an image juxtaposing the individuality of the sitter with more recognisable images from visual culture. This creates a shifting dynamic between individual details and the cachet of an iconic or recognisable image. These never-settled boundaries are added to by the similar shift between surface and material. The figures are painted thinly in oils, but the backgrounds use light-reflective acrylic paints, taking the subject out of their original context and slipping them into a non-existent space of painting.

The paintings are made from referencing photographs taken in a photographic studio with strong theatrical lighting. The photographs retain the momentary immediacy of the moving film image – as Deleuze called it, the movement-image. Rather than static posed shots the artist thinks of them as stilled moving images.

The original photographs are subverted in painting through a careful selection of details. The details of the specifically chosen sitter are directed into recognisably filmic poses and gestures, enhancing the disjunctions within the piece between the cultural cachet and individuality of the sitter.

Originally from Hertfordshire, Victoria moved to London to study her Foundation Year at Camberwell College of Art. She continued on to Chelsea College of Art and Design to study BA Fine Art, graduating in 2011 with First Class Honours.”

I jumped at the chance to model for Victoria, she already had an idea in mind for me- Lady Gaga styling with some crazy poses. Since this was the first of a ‘modern’ series we discussed using extra props for styling ideas and proffesional hair and makeup. Luckily, my good friend Rachel Rodrigues is a qualified makeup artist and hair stylist, since we both come from a fashion background it was really fun to get back into the styling side of fashion photography.

As soon as we made our way to Victoria’s (heated!) studio in Bermondsey, she showed us inspirational images she had picked up from when she visited the ‘Glamour of the God’s’ exhibition at the V&A, and still images of Lady Gaga music video’s. Rachel made me up with a silver lightening bolt and dark makeup (think I scared quite a few people on the way home!) We also decided on a sleek bob hair style which held an ironic twist to the outlandish makeup. Victoria directed me on where I should stand and how to pose which was fun we played with different positions which proved to be quite difficult after a while, wearing spiked leggings and 6″ heels!

‘My shoot with Sufi was one of the most successful I’ve ever had. It was great fun because it was the first time I have used professional hair and make-up for the model. My work aims to juxtapose an individual with a cachet or iconic image. Usually this has meant using 1940s-60s film as a reference, looking at Marlon Brando, James Dean, Rita Hayworth. The choice of Lady Gaga as a reference reflects our modern icons and the impact figures like this have now-a-days. Sufi was a fantastic model. She really got into the character and look of the images I wanted. the photos were so good that I am actually going to make a triptych of paintings instead of just one.’

I can’t wait to see the paintings and I know Victoria will do a fantastic job with the shots we took!

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