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The About Face Exhibition

The About Face exhibition explores the topic of the human face through multidisciplinary responses. Each response is unique and explores the theme from a different perspective offering its own individual story. This is not a static exhibition but asks the visitor to interact with it through written, visual and auditory stimuli. The exhibition will place the visitor in many different situations some of which may be familiar but still open to their own interpretation.

The human face was used as a starting point as it is something we are all familiar with but can be interpreted in many different ways. During lockdown it was something we could all access and connected us through its exploration.

Faces form the basis of how we determine the character of a person. We look for clues and use these to form our first impressions, on average within the first seven seconds of meeting someone and based predominantly on physical appearance. The representation of the human face has always been important throughout history and the fascination with the human face continues today, and is perhaps even more prevalent. Even though culture shapes the nuances of facial expressions, we have a common language of emotions and how we convey them. Viewing a depiction of a human face instinctively makes us try to understand the emotion being conveyed as well as making sense of what we see. Artists have used this to challenge and provoke us with portraits delivered in varying styles and mediums. This was the hope for the About Face project and has been achieved through involving both poets and visual artists.

The About Face group members were free to interpret the theme however they wished and through discussion the topics within the theme were extended beyond emotions and facial expressions to debating conditions that might cause trouble processing or displaying emotions. Further topics were suggested such as; facial surgery, age, gender and identity. Questions were posed such as “Does your face link you to your heritage? Do you not know your history and wonder who you look like? Does a face conjure up a memory, a feeling or a story?”

In this way a varied response was generated which the viewer can explore through this multi-sensory exhibition.