The Bloomsbury Hotel in London has launched the Poetry Portraits Exhibition in conjunction with London charity, Poet in the City. The initiative saw the charity work in partnership with fine art atelier Lavender Hill Studios to create a series of portraits of ten prominent poets to be housed in the hotel until their sale at a charity auction in 2015.
Tipping its hat to the hotel’s Irish heritage, the exhibition features a portrait of the late Seamus Heaney, dear friend and long-time resident of The Bloomsbury Hotel. Heaney stayed there regularly on his visits to London, and gave his name to the hotel’s Seamus Heaney Library.
Heaney’s portrait is painted by London-based artist Ann Witheridge. A portrait artist and founder of Lavender Hill Studios, she studied under Geoffrey Humphries in Venice for a year, and went on to study and teach at the Charles H. Cecil Studios in Florence for five years, where she was the recipient of numerous scholarships and awards. Her unique style lies in her use of vibrant colours which only reveal their true complexity after careful viewing. It is this style combined with her use of oil on linen canvas, that gives her portrait of Heaney an authentic quality usually only captured in a live sitting.
Heaney’s portrait is joined by that of the hotel’s Poet-In-Residence, Leontia Flynn, painted by Phoebe Dickenson, daughter of London art dealer, Simon Dickenson. Dickenson has the ability to get under the skin of her subjects, investing her depictions with an emotional life, honesty and humanity. Part painter and part storyteller she has a knack for extracting and depicting the stories of her subjects.
The portraits of poets past and present will continue to delight guests of the hotel throughout 2014.