Artwork > Cold Comfort, solo show, Arusha Gallery

The Familiars
The Familiars
oil on panel, hand made hard wood frames
each image 10 x 15 cm
2022

15 miniature portraits (sold individually)
The fifteen ‘Miniatures’ that appear in this exhibition take their inspiration from a family story. Russon’s Nana lived in a noisy, chaotic household from which she managed her family business. With constant comings and goings it was often a challenge for her to cope. She took great comfort however from a small Victorian portrait of an anonymous girl which hung on the wall and when it all became too much Nana would directly address the painting saying ‘Luv – if you can take it so can I”.

These intimate, small-scale works, set into hand-carved wooden frames designed and made by Russon’s partner, are dramatically juxtaposed against the larger unframed works in the show. They reference the tradition of religious icons prayed to in times of need. They are also reminiscent of the fashion for miniature portraits of the Tudor age conceived as personal mementos and tokens of affection. These intimate images were carried and worn by both men and women as a means to keep loved ones close in the same way that today we keep photographs in our wallets or digital images on our mobile phones.

Here Russon has conjured a series of luminous, keenly observed and highly detailed portraits of young girls, their beatific faces and calm, contemplative gazes fixed directly on the viewer. Perhaps these are the contemporary saints of today’s multi-cultural Britain, virtual online friends or followers from social media sites, wise virgins, ancient deities in twenty first century clothing, lost children, portraits of our younger selves or characters from the well-loved stories of our youth? Whatever our perception or interpretation the artist’s hope is that they will offer the viewer the same comfort as the small Victorian portrait gave her Nana.