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Photography Club’s Visit to the National Gallery

Published by: Hazel Welch
Photography Club's visit to the National Gallery. The club stands in a gallery all looking towards paintings on the left.

A group of young people age 13-16, visited The National Gallery in London recently as part of a very special edition of Photography Club. The trip was part of a project to create photographic self-portraits in response to Rembrandt’s self portrait at the age of 34, which is coming to Brighton Museum & Art Gallery in May 2024.

The young people worked with artist Alejandra Carles-Tolra, through a series of creative workshops to explore portraiture in a variety of ways and reflect on themes of identity, representation, and our sense of belonging.

Their final portraits will sit alongside the Rembrandt painting in the National Treasures: Rembrandt in Brighton exhibition.

Photography Club is delivered in partnership with national arts charity Photoworks. Young people are recruited to this project through our network of local support services. Many of the participants face some barriers to engagement. The young people complete a Bronze Arts Award accreditation as part of this project.

The Bronze Arts Award requires the participants to share a review in a public forum, so find out below what the group thought of their trip to the National Gallery.

With thanks to Melanie, Ciaran, Zoe and Brighton & Hove Museums staff for accompanying the Photography Club on the trip to the National Gallery. All images by Melanie Pollard.

Photography Club's visit to the National Gallery. The club stands in a gallery all looking towards paintings on the left.

Eryn

We went to see the portrait that Rembrandt took of himself. He painted himself to be a rich and upper class man (more than he was). I really enjoyed seeing the brush strokes that he took.

Some things I would have liked to see:
In the actual exhibition it would have been nice to see some more different ways of showing information, like we saw in the Lee Miller exhibition at Brighton Museum & Art Gallery. Things like:

• Quotes
• Screens
• Interactive Games
• QR codes
• Colours

Photography Club's visit to the National Gallery. The Club stand in a gallery looking at portraits and listening to a woman speaking

Anton

On Saturday, we went to the National Gallery to see Rembrandt’s self-portrait, which is inspiring our project. We had a talk from a member of the National Gallery staff called Zack. He talked to us about the Rembrandt. We saw paintings – I liked seeing the detail of the brush strokes up close, which you can’t see much from pictures on screens.

My favourite thing about visiting the National Gallery was that it was absolutely filled with paintings! I think it would have been improved slightly by being a bit quieter. I would give the whole experience a 9 out of 10!

It has been a very inspiring experience. Seeing the size and the amount of paintings was mind-blowing.

I did not have many questions and I enjoyed hearing other peoples’ comments about what Rembrandt was wearing.

Photography Club's visit to the National Gallery. A man and a teenage boy stand in front of a painting, they look to be discussing the work.

Nina

We went to the National Art Gallery in London with the Photography Club. I think it truly inspired my final piece (my self-portrait) with elegance in a peculiar way, as well as the lighting and positioning of the model in a dramatised way.

One of the things I liked was that we looked at the Rembrandt painting and some others in the same show room. Then we got to explore the paintings around the gallery. One in particular I liked was Saint Sebastian by Gerrit van Honthorst.

I would give the trip as a whole a good 8.5/10. The reasoning behind this is that we did not get to experience the art fully because we had to leave early.

Photography Club's visit to the National Gallery. A group of young people stand in a gallery looking at portraits. A man with a camera stands to the right

Megan

We took a trip to the National Gallery to explore Rembrandt and other artists’ work. This was an amazing experience that I learnt a lot from. Our amazing guide Zack told us about Rembrandt’s work, in particular his famous self-portrait (34 years of age).

I love how his work tells so much about himself from the lighting, composition, and frame, to the objects that feature. This technique inspires my photography and I wonder to what extent I can show myself in photography through his techniques.

As well as exploring Rembrandt’s work, I was inspired by Jusepe de Ribera due to his use of shadows and highlights, very similar to Rembrandt’s style. The fixed eyes on the audience also reflects in much of Rembrandt’s work.

Photography Club's visit to the National Gallery. A girl stands to the left of a portrait of a man on a horse, she is facing the camera

Viv

We went to visit the real painting and we could see all of the detail and intricate brush strokes.

Photography Club's visit to the National Gallery. Two girls stand in front of a painting of a man on a horse. The girl on the right turns to talk to the girl on the left

Nathan

On Saturday, me and my photography group took a trip to London to visit the National Gallery to see the self-portrait of Rembrandt, his other portraits, Titian’s self-portrait that inspired Rembrandt’s, and other different portrait portrayals.

In the exhibition containing Rembrandt’s work, I was more interested in the pieces that were less focused on one person and instead more zoomed out, where you can see more of the room.

We were given a talk by a student which went into more detail about Rembrandt’s self-portrait. We talked about how the wall his arm rests on creates a sense of distance between him and the viewer, and how his gaze made contact with the viewer.

I would rate the trip 7/10 as I wasn’t interested in the portraits, but the ones in bigger rooms inspired me to want to photograph nature.

Rembrandt has opened my eyes to portraiture, as I did not know much or anything before about that type of art.

Photography Club's visit to the National Gallery. The club stands in a gallery all looking towards paintings on the left.

Winnie

Trip to the gallery! We went to the National Gallery to visit Room 22, the Rembrandt Collection. I really enjoyed it but I don’t find the Rembrandt we were looking at that interesting. I prefer more expressive work that shows more emotion. We had a talk from a student who had studies Rembrandt and it was very interesting to think about the self-portrait in a lot of detail, as I’d never really thought about some of the things he talked about. Like how the wall creates distance between the viewer and the artist, and about how he is making eye contact with the viewer.

We also spoke about Titian’s painting that inspired Rembrandt, which really interested me as you could clearly see how Rembrandt took inspiration from it even though it was 100 years before.

For my own self-portrait, I like the idea of leaning on something like a wall or a table to create distance, like Rembrandt and Titian’s work.

Photography Club's visit to the National Gallery. A girl stands looking at a portrait of a woman with

Lila

We went to see the Rembrandt and saw it in detail. We dressed up in Italian clothes at the National Gallery in London.

I really liked looking at all of the paintings in the gallery. I looked at their poses and if they were self-portraits.

I didn’t really like the style of some of the paintings, but I mostly liked all of them.

I would rate the trip 8/10 because it was a really good experience.

Overall, I enjoyed the trip and I will take some of the things in the paintings and put them in my own self-portrait, like the gazes.

Photography Club's visit to the National Gallery. A girl stands looking at a painting in a gallery.

Daisy

We went to London to go and see the National Gallery and the Tate, but we had to leave early so didn’t end up going to the Tate. In this photo, me and Megan are looking at the art we saw. We saw Rembrandt’s paintings and self-portraits. It was really interesting to see all the different self-portraits in the gallery, seeing how all the different painters presented themselves and their emotions. It was inspiring and made me think about how I will look and what my posture will be in my self-portrait.

Photography Club's visit to the National Gallery. Two girls stand and look at a portrait

Lola

We visited the National Gallery. I enjoyed looking around and taking ideas and inspiration from more classical artists using Rembrandt’s style. I didn’t like how bland and colourless some of the paintings were. My question is, how much money did each artist earn and how?

Photography Club's visit to the National Gallery. Two girls sit on a bench in a gallery and write in a notebook

Ellie

I went to the National Gallery in London with everyone from Photography Club. We went to see Rembrandt’s painting of himself at 34 years old. It was good, and I enjoyed all the different paintings.

I liked the “Group Portrait” by painter Gerbrand van den Eeckhout, and artist who studied with Rembrandt. I chose this picture because I liked the little dog in the corner. I saw the confidence in the people and the fear in the dog. I was inspired by the way the painter used light in the painting.

Photography Club's visit to the National Gallery. Two girls stand looking at a painting of a man on a horse.

Ori

We went to the National Gallery in London on Saturday to see the Portrait of Rembrandt, Age 34. We saw Rembrandt with staff from the National Gallery, Brighton Museum, and Photoworks. A National Gallery staff member called Zack gave a lecture about the painting and Rembrandt’s life, which I really enjoyed.

My favourite part of the day was learning about art, and I enjoyed the Rembrandt room. Unfortunately because of the train strikes, we had to leave early.

I would give the day 9 out of 10 points because I enjoyed going to London and it inspired me. It showed me great painters and stories about their life, such as Diego Velasquez’s Kitchen Scene with Chrisst in the House or Martha and Mary and The Assassination of St. Peter by Giovanni Bellini.

I had some questions about how the artists got paint, how hard they had to work, and how long it would take. It was fascinating.

Photography Club's visit to the National Gallery. A group of young people stand in a gallery looking at portraits, a woman talks to a boy as he looks at the portrait

Sofia

On Saturday we took a trip to the National Gallery in London to look at the Rembrandt painting that we’ve been responding to in the workshops.

We visited the painting galleries and saw lots of oil paintings similar to the Rembrandt painting. Lots of different artists’ work was on display.

I enjoyed seeing more of Rembrandt’s paintings and seeing lots of different styles of portraits by different artists. It would have been better if we’d had more time to see the paintings and explore more of the galleries. I thought the exhibitions were really good. I would rate it 7/10 because there was nothing really of pizzazz!

Seeing the other portraits inspired me to think of different ways of posing and different facial expressions. Something that really struck me was how the sitters were looking back out at the viewer. I liked that confidence, and I think I will use that in my final project.

Photography Club's visit to the National Gallery. A girl stands to the right looking at a portrait in a gallery