Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Aoife in the National Portrait Gallery

Here is a painting that hangs on my living room wall. It is entitled "The Birdfeeders". It was painted by my friend, Paul Smith.  The three models are my three daughters.

The lake, the sky and the fog merge into a vague horizon.  Each child is lost in her own world, enveloped in a mysterious aloneless.  Despite the children and the presence of the birds, a silence reigns.  One child, Aoife turns and catches your eye.  Her stare penetrates.  Paul has captured that look that she used to have, just at the moment before she breaks into a beautiful smile.  When the National Portrait Gallery on Trafalgar Square turned 150 years old, they celebrated by inviting 150 artists to submit a small portait drawing, to be auctioned at a ball for an invited audience.  Paul was one of the artists chosen.  He submitted this drawing:

It is of course Aoife, with that penetrating stare of hers.  The portrait was sold by the National Portrait Gallery. The purchaser was a friend of John Major, former Prime Minister of Britain and former leader of the Conservative Party. It is probably hanging on a wall in some country house in Buckinghamshire. Paul gave me a copy, printed on high quality paper and framed - almost as good as the original. I have it hanging in my bedroom. There is something renaissance like about it - Michelangeloesque. Her look makes me reflect upon myself, to stop a moment to check if I am the person who I intend to be. I am worried that I will not meet her approval.  I am hoping she will break into that beautiful smile of hers, but she doesn't.  Instead, she stares, she queries, and I reflect upon my too many imperfections.


  1. Oh wow! Those paintings are so good that I thought at first glance that they were photographs! Lovely! How do you pronounce Aoife? I love that look and can imagine that it makes you reflective.

  2. Aoife is pronounced E-Fa. It is an old Irish name.