Shakespeare's Androgynes

Pola Wickham says "Portraiture has always been a strong interest of mine, and although never a central motif, it enters my work either in the shape of specific commissions or figures and groups of figures.

  • Caio Lucio played by Giovanna Nodari
  • painting of achimo played by Alessandra Rocca
  • Belario played by Elena Felloni/collage and mixed media on paper/28 by 40cm/2011
  • Fidelio played by Mariacarla Boscono
  • CaioLucio played by Giovanna Nodari
  • Iachimo played by Alessandra Rocca
  • Regina played by Anna Maria Olivi
  • Guiderio played by Chiara
  • Cymberlino played by Raffaella D'Avella
  • Posthumo played by Manuela Ungaro

For some time I have been making a personal study of female physiognomy, investigating what makes up the beauty in those faces I am drawn to as subject matter.  There is certainly no convention I have discovered for my choice of subjects, but rather interesting skin colours, bone structure s and a certain sense of self possession , or some intangible combination of these together.

Whilst watching and considering the actors, all of whom were women, in Klesidra's production of Cymberline, I took up the challenge to paint these women not as themselves but as they are in their roles, almost all of whom are men.  I am not usually interested directly in the
psychological element of making paintings.  I mostly focus on how to recreate a physical likeness, without being too literal, while coming up with a  striking and complete image.  In this case however the psychological entered the work despite my usual practice of focussing on
the physical.

I found this challenge liberating as I became more interested in making the painting become the character and less a likeness and homage to a specific personal beauty.

I thank the theatre company Klesidra, Imogen Kusch and all her actresses for their generous collaboration and the time they gave me for my study.  I love watching them play."

The exhibition accompanies a trilogy of Shakespeare plays produced by Klesidra and directed by Imogen Kusch.