Crude Hints…


The Portraits in the Making exhibition enabled me to produce a large scale site responsive piece which is an area that I would like to explore further in the future. It has given me the opportunity to experiment with new ideas and develop my portrait as a maker.

Using the staircase at Pitzhanger Manor as it symbolises the spine of the building, I interpreted Sir John Soane’s narrative ‘Crude Hints towards the History of My House’ and explored the connections between his fascination with the poetry of decay and his emotional turmoil in later life. This piece represented the deterioration of the man and of his hopes and dreams.

If you would like to see more of my work please visit my website

As our exhibition has come to an end, I have been thinking of ways to incorporate my hand woven Morse-code alphabet into my studio practice and product development. I have created it’s very own page on my website: and am planning to frame my panels for the studio to help myself and my customers invent and trap more meanings, phrases and secrets in my work and commission service. Making the alphabet and concentrating on my signature block work has helped me to discover the importance of communication in textiles and in my work. I hope it has helped me to create work that will last forever and become heirlooms in the future. Thank you to all who visited the exhibition and to those who enjoyed handling our handling collection; one of the most successful aspects to the show.

For those of you who missed the exhibition or would just like a little reminder, here’s a link to our makers film:


photographed by Sylvain Deleu

Thank you for visiting Portraits in the Making, this blog follows the inspiration and creative development of 17 makers responding to Pitzhanger Manor, Ealing, the former holiday home of the architect Sir John Soane. The exhibition at PM House & Gallery ran from 21 September – 12 November 2011 and the blog will continue here as legacy to our ambitious project.

Photographed by Sylvain Deleu
The Handling Exhibition, funded by a Grant for the Arts, Arts Council England.

Portraits in the Making Press Release



by Helene Uffren

Below are some of my works on display in the gallery and manor house.

Voyeur: Mirror, picture, gold gilded frame.

Portrait (Detail) : Glass, mirror, metal, oil painting on card and  wooden shelf

Irini, Ivan, Eileen, Iris (glass and metal) in the George Dance room

Undergrounds: Mirror. tiles, wood. Undergrounds (Detail) Reflection of the room when the video fades out.

Photography by Ester Segarra and Helene Uffren.

Stella Harding


photographed by Sylvain Deleu

Whilst the makers behind the exhibition are now busily working towards new deadlines and projects there remains just over two weeks of the Portraits show at Pitzhanger Gallery & Manor House. The works span across both the gallery space and house and are accompanied by our Arts Council England funded Handling Exhibition where visitors can pick up and interact with specially commissioned pieces individually produced by all 17 of the makers.

If you have already visited Portraits in the Making we are especially interested in what you thought of it. Please feel free to leave comments below.



The work is all installed, and the private view has happened, but my piece is just beginning…

A structure has been built from my personal collection of textiles, each with its own tale to tell. But the structure is about housing a series or workshops, aimed at families to share oral histories through the generations.

Working as an orchestrator, and taking textiles as a starting point to trigger conversations and storytelling. I have made a space to bring people together, where ideas of community and resilience are acted out through participants taking part in a series of making workshops.

Everyday practices such as bread baking, craft and other making activities, is currently a topic of sociological research – ‘Life Projects’ that examines how people express themselves through these everyday practices, creating home into an enchanted space that is about finding new ways of living.

Tonight the structure begins to come to life as the first workshop for the teachers preview happens – in order to share ideas, techniques or project methods they may pass on to students.

More to come on the stories from the textiles I have made…


by Helene Uffren

This blog and this exhibition are about making, techniques and the makers behind the processes and ideas. It is about identity, hence the title of the exhibition “Portraits in the Making”. The art of making has another side though – and I would like to give a brief view of my experience of that other side: The art of not making.

In my practice, I use glassblowing, gilding, photography, painting, metalwork, found objects, mirroring, woodturning, metal casting, kiln-formed glass and now moving images. I am not proficient in all of these techniques but am proficient in most of them.

To give form to my ideas, I rely in part on the skills and knowledge of others. For example, a glass blower, a metalworker and a wood turner have made parts of my pieces for this exhibition. This is because I do not have the experience or the equipment to do it myself. Not having total control on the making is twofold: frustrating at times but also rewarding. Through collaboration and exchange, new ideas and sources of inspiration often occur. I do not have an issue about parts of my work being materialised by others. It fits my goals.

Glass does not summarise my practice even if it is present in all my works – I define myself as a glass and mixed media artist. Using or being defined by only one material is too restrictive and is a constraint to me. This versatility of mediums and approach to making forms my portrait as an artist- and the participation of the viewer makes it whole-the final piece.
The viewer, too, makes the piece, as he/she is often reflected in it, as in one of my works for this exhibition “Undergrounds”

“Undergrounds” : Tiling the fake wall

This Glass and video project investigates the notion of visual displacement and takes the viewer into a perceptual journey from the familiar to the over-looked and the surreal. It is an exploration of our physical and psychological experience of space and place. Most of all it is about the interaction between virtual/physical, real/illusion that is at the core of my practice.

With “Undergrounds”, the viewer becomes part of the work, reflected and arrested by the act of looking and seeing him/herself going back and forth between a real and fictional space…into a liminal space.

by Lucy Elsie Harvey

Craft processes allow me to create narrative forms which are ambiguous and open to interpretation. I take inspiration from the human legacy of craft objects and rather than celebrate the sophistication of our making, something which is amply covered by industrialisation, I am interested in incorrect making and imperfection. I celebrate the human fallibility evident in crafted and repaired artefacts, for me these interventions and acts of creation allow us a sense of control over one aspect of the uncertain world around us. This aspiration for control, via the manipulation of materials and our role as the creator and owner of an object, finds a small victory within craft. Within my practice, the flaws of hand production act as metaphor for this temporary triumph.

Obscuring Beauty


by Clare O’Driscoll

I’ve been researching traditional Georgian jewellery, thinking about the women who would have been at Pitzhanger Manor at the time that Sir John Soane lived there and what they would have worn. The negative spaces within Festoon necklaces, as well as traditional oval cameos shapes, have been of particular interest.

The idea of layers of paint continues to fascinate me, and i have been playing with lots of different types of paint, sprays, primers, varnishes, and experimenting with different methods of creating the ‘peeling’ effect, peeling, picking, scratching it off.

It’s a very tactile process; covering up the shining metal with paint, obscuring its ‘beauty’, and then picking away at the paint, almost compulsively scratching, and exposing some of the brightness underneath.