On Friday 21st September I was privileged to attend the first public show of ‘The Black Portraits’ an exhibition by artist Paul Piercy.
The exhibition is currently showing at Wallsend Memorial Hall and People’s Centre, Newcastle upon Tyne, England between 22nd September - 27th October 2012 . It then goes on public tour.
The exhibition consists of 15 large paintings, each painting features a Human Right’s Champion. The unique thing about each painting is that the subjects face is always painted in black impasto, in order to reflect their enforced absence from society and sadly in some cases their death. Alongside their portrait is an explanation about their background,what they are trying to achieve and their struggle to achieve their aims.
Paul intends that there will eventually be 20 paintings in The Black Portraits series, so he is currently researching the subjects for the final five paintings. As each subject obtains their freedom, Paul invites them to sit for a new portrait where their face is fully featured and their freedom is celebrated.
In his artists statement accompanying the exhibition Paul states
‘Here in Wallsend and in the North East of England and around Britain there are men and women courageously striving to make a change that will result in a safer and more open and equal society for all of us now and for our children.
Where one of these is a town councillor or an NHS patient in Wallsend or one is a journalist or lawyer in Newcastle they can rightly expect that however unpopular they may appear their advocacy will not result in their imprisonment or death. ‘Twas not always so.’
Tyneside ( the area surrounding the River Tyne) has had its own share of human rights champions, and because of them and others in this land we enjoy the freedoms and justice that can only be dreamed of in many parts of the world today. Elsewhere for example you could be imprisoned for exhibiting these paintings or for painting them or even for attending this exhibition.’
Paul hopes that the exhibition will go on to be shown in public buildings and schools to both educate and inspire others in their struggles for freedom and justice. If you know of someone who could facilitate such an exhibition, please contact Paul at
I have previously interviewed Paul about the work featured in this exhibitio. You can watch the video of the interview here