When I begin a live Portraits Untold sitting, celebrating diversity and what is it that makes us all human, my first question to the sitter is always ‘WHO IS ………….?’ And there the story begins.

By Tanya Raabe Webber, Visual Artist

So I guess this time it's me on the spotlight. Well Hello Culture! Who am I? I’m Tanya Raabe Webber known for my democratisation of drawing, a quiet pioneering revolutionary and an acclaimed disabled artist challenging the notion of identity within contemporary portraiture, often creating portraits of high profile disabled people during live sittings in high profile public art galleries and venues.

Last year I created project Portraits Untold is an ambitious and unique project exploring and celebrating the diversity of our common humanity through a series of four live portrait sittings with high profile sitters in well-known venues taking place in summer and autumn 2016 across the UK.

I undertook four live portrait sittings that fuse digital and tradition drawing and painting techniques in an interactive live environment, inviting physical and online audiences to join in. I was in conversation with the sitters and in some cases collaborating, as we explored what it is to be human through the stories of the lives and the work of the sitters. The conversations also explored how art and the artistic process is central to the representation, discussion and our thinking on cultural diversity and contemporary society.

A total of four sitters had been invited to be the subjects at the live events in well known and well loved venues across the country. Each sitting will took place in front of a live audience in these well known public venues, as well as being streamed live to online audiences. Both the physical and online audiences were invited to participate in the event, join in the dialogue and explore diversity whilst also developing their own creative responses in the form of drawings, both on paper and through digital drawing apps on their smart phones and tablets.

As a disabled artist, the notion of my own diversity drives my interest in people and the exploration of the human condition and the belief that everyone has the potential to be creative if given the opportunity. I am well known as a painter of people, however I have wanted to develop a way to engage audiences more fully in the subject matter of my work and also within its physicality. I have developed this project with Independent Producer Mandy Fowler and the venue partners to enable creativity to be as accessible as possible.

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