The Sitter's Tale: Muriel Spark
From the Scottish National Portrait Gallery: the great author used her intuition on the red scarf
Sunday 22 August 1999
Sandy Moffat's portrait of me is a striking picture but bears no likeness to myself. Nobody recognises me. I spent one week in Edinburgh about 15 years ago with five sittings. Objectively I think it looks like a good poster. The artist didn't try to get to know me; in fact, he seemed only to want to fill in sessions with extra sketches. He has given me yellow hair with a navy-blue parting. It looks like dyed hair, but I've never coloured my hair, I've never needed to do so. Although I'm 81 I still have my natural light reddish hair and freckles, which is part of my "look". The portrait has somehow altered all that.
Sandy Moffat didn't know what I should wear. I had a black suit and a sweater with a thin black-and-grey stripe which he made into broad footballer stripes. I put on a red scarf through my own intuition; it cheered the artist up, he was quite gloomy. He said to me, the picture is called "The Red Scarf", and that, in fact, is what it is. I was just a model for "The Red Scarf" by Sandy Moffat. It isn't me at all; the author of my books is just not there.
Sandy gave me the name of a good restaurant in Leith, and recommended some brands of whisky to take home, for which I'm grateful. I don't regret it, I never regret anything like that. But I hope to do another portrait some time. I would like to be in the National Portrait Gallery in England as well.
Alexander Moffat's 1984 portrait hangs in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh (0131 624 6200)
GlastonburyWI to make debut appearance at Somerset festival
TV reviewIt has taken seven episodes for Game of Thrones season five to hit its stride
Arts & Ents blogs
- 2 California man brutally beat 82-year-old Sikh grandfather he mistook for 'one of those people'
- 3 School kitchen manager 'fired from Colorado school for giving hungry students free lunches'
- 4 Gay teenager 'forced to have sex with his own mother' to 'cure' his homosexuality, campaigners in India say
- 5 Charles Kennedy 'had better judgement drunk than many sober politicians' says Ian Hislop
Syd Barrett's inner visions
Britain's Got Talent 2015: Simon Cowell 'feels like an idiot' after Jules and Matisse scandal
Game of Thrones season 6: George RR Martin doing 'anything he can' to get new book The Winds of Winter out before next HBO series airs
Game of Thrones, Battle of Hardhome: 20-minute Wildlings versus White Walkers battle took a 'solid month' to film
Game of Thrones season 5 episode 9, The Dance of Dragons: Jon Snow returns to The Wall after epic Battle of Hardhome
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination
Migrants in Kos: Photos show real tragedy after Brits abroad complain of 'awkward' holidays
British tourists complain that impoverished boat migrants are making holidays 'awkward' in Kos
Michael Gove determined to scrap the Human Rights Act – even if Scotland retains it
Threat to scrap Human Rights Act could see UK follow Nazi example, warns UN official
Church of England 'one generation away from extinction' after dramatic loss of followers