A newly acquired portrait of Baroness Joan Bakewell, the broadcaster, journalist and writer, has been unveiled at the National Portrait Gallery it was announced today, Thursday 31 March.
The ceramic half-length sculpture is part of an ongoing series of portraits of influential women by the artist Glenys Barton and it is the final of a trio of works that she has made of Joan Bakewell since 2012.
All of the sittings for the sculpture took place at Baroness Bakewell’s home. It is the third portrait by the artist to join the Collection following the Gallery’s acquisitions of Barton’s sculptures of actress Glenda Jackson and the fashion designer, Jean Muir.
Joan Bakewell came to prominence as a television presenter of current affairs and the arts in the 1960s on Late Night Line-Up(1965-72). She later presented Heart of the Matter (1988-2000). Her books include autobiographical works The Centre of the Bed(2004), The View from Here: Life at Seventy (2009), Stop the Clocks: Thoughts on What I Leave Behind (2016) as well as novels All the Nice Girls (2009) and She’s Leaving Home (2011). In 2008, Bakewell was recognised as a voice for older people by the Government and in 2011, became Baroness Bakewell of Stockport.
Dr Nicholas Cullinan, Director, National Portrait Gallery says: “This striking portrait recognises the achievements of one of Britain’s most distinguished and respected broadcasters and campaigners. We are delighted to welcome back a new work from artist Glenys Barton, renowned for creating strong sculptures of remarkable women, which are some of the most popular in the Gallery’s Collection.”
Barton works mainly in ceramic and bronze and since the 1980s her work has been primarily figurative, with a particular focus on the head. In 1993, her portrait of Jean Muir was included in the National Portrait Gallery exhibition ‘Portrait Now’ and subsequently acquired for the Collection, along with a commissioned portrait of Glenda Jackson (1993). A retrospective of her work was held at the Gallery in 1997. Barton’s art has been shown in Britain, Europe and the United States, including an exhibition in 1977 of sculpture made over an 18 month period at the Wedgwood Factory in Stoke on Trent. She is represented by Flowers Gallery in London and New York.
Artist Glenys Barton says: ‘I always seem to come back to the theme of powerful women in my work and Joan is no exception. That’s why it was so important for me to capture Joan’s strength and charisma in the final form. While hands are very significant, as they’re very often the way we convey our emotions, my biggest challenge was Joan’s smile as she has a very expressive face. But I am very pleased with the finished result. The first form was softer but this shape is very strong. In fact, I hope it’s not just a strong portrait but a strong sculpture too.’
The portrait of Baroness Bakewell goes on display as part of a new hang of contemporary portraits in Room 32 and 33 of the National Portrait Gallery alongside other contemporary portraits of influential women including Shami Chakrabarti, Sam Taylor-Johnson and Dame Judi Dench.
Baroness Joan Bakewell is on display in Room 32 at the National Portrait Gallery. Admission free.
NPG 6997: BARONESS JOAN BAKEWELL (b.1933) by Glenys Barton (b.1944). Ceramic Sculpture, 2014. 530 mm x 440 mm. Acquired by the Trustees of the National Portrait Gallery.