All about my mother: the visual tributes from top artists
For centuries, artists have turned to their mothers for creative inspiration. John Lennon wrote anguished lyrics about his, the Spanish film-maker Pedro Almodovar dedicated at least one film to his and the artist Whistler captured his in an iconic painting.
Now, mother muses are back. Almost two decades after Lucian Freud shocked the artistic community by drawing his elderly mother a day after she died, a hundred artists from Dinos Chapman to Grayson Perry and Bob & Roberta Smith have devoted their canvases to the same subject.
The results range from the reverential to the mischievous and profane. While Chapman has created a "witch's face" collage using fake spots and a witch's nose, Perry has submitted an image of himself dressed up as his mother. Bob & Roberta Smith, the artistic pseudonym for Patrick Brill, has recreated a formidable portrait of his mother which he drew at the age of seven.
The visual homage to motherhood will be shown in the exhibition Mothers, opening next Thursday at the Sartorial Contemporary Art gallery in west London. The inspiration for the show came to its curator, Harry Pye, four years ago, after he viewed Freud's portraits of his ailing mother at a retrospective at Tate Britain in June 2002.
Freud, who often painted members of his family, created a series of portraits of his mother, Lucie Freud, from 1972 until her death in 1989 aged 90. In some of the paintings she stares blankly ahead, while in others she is reading or has her eyes cast downward. The later portraits show her old and wrinkled and feeling depressed after her husband's death. The final picture reveals her on her deathbed with eyes closed, dentures removed and lips sunken.
"When I had the idea for the show, I was 30 years old and my own mother was 60," said Mr Pye. "I had just seen Freud's work in the Tate and he's drawn her recovering from a stroke and my father had had a stroke. I remember thinking how I wouldn't draw him then, but that it was interesting to capture images of mothers. At school, she is the person teachers will ask you to draw and take home to show her. So I found 50 male and 50 female artists willing to paint their mum's portrait. I gave each one a canvas 16in by 20in. The aim was always to make the show straightforward and irony-free," he said.
The collection, which is estimated to be worth at least £100,000, was originally shown two years ago but more portraits have since been donated. It includes works by emerging artists such as Beverley Daniels as well as more established figures.
While the former Turner Prize-winner Perry submitted his own canvas, his nine-year-old daughter Flo's work is also on display. The piece was painted two years ago and shows her mother holding a cat. The artist Peter Lloyd, meanwhile, painted a skull and Liz Neil drew a white light, suggesting their mothers had died. Peter Harris created a hybrid version of himself and his mother, and the comedian and artist Vic Reeves presents a quirky picture of his mother at the age of seven.
Alongside the display, which runs until 8 March and encompasses Mother's Day on 2 March, is a poem written by John Hegley about his mother.
The pieces are not for sale individually but if bought collectively, the money raised will be donated to charity.
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