Tanya Raabe-Webber
Visual Artist
painted eyes of Una Heap by Tanya Raabe-Webber
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Revealing Culture: Head On

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Revealing Culture: Head On blog

This is an artwork and body of research, by award winning visual artist Tanya Raabe-Webber. The work challenges the notion of identity, the nude and disability culture within contemporary portraiture. This work took place in Tate Modern, Tate Liverpool, Wolverhampton Art Gallery 2011-2012.

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  Painting of Garry Robson

Garry Robson
Actor, Artistic Director DaDaFest 10 International - Fittings Multimedia Arts
Mixmedia, Oil on canvas, 30″ x 36″, 2011


  nabil shaban painting

Nabil Shaban – The Public’s Choice - Presently on Exibition HSBC Headquarters, London. Previously exhibited Southbank, London.
Actor - Founder of Graeae Theatre Company
Mixmedia, Oil on canvas, 30″ x 36″, 2011


  painting of sir william laurence

Sir William Lawrence Bt. OBE MA (Hons)
Conservative Councillor - Campaigner for Accessibility
Mixmedia, Oil on canvas, 30″ x 36″, 2011


  painting of tom shakespear

Tom Shakespeare
Sociologist - Bioethicist
Mixmedia, Oil on canvas, 30″ x 36″, 2011


  painting of sophie morgan

Sophie Morgan
Artist, Campaigner - Runner up in the BBC reality TV show 'Britain’s Missing Top Model’
Mixmedia, Oil on canvas, 30″ x 36″, 2011


  painting of simone aspis

Simone Aspis
Disability, Civil - Human Rights Activist
Oil on canvas, 30" x 36", 2011


  painting of michele taylor

Michèle Taylor
Consultant, Trainer - Performer
Mixmedia, Oil on canvas, 36″x30″ 2011


  painting of Baroness Jane Campell

Baroness Jane Campbell of Surbiton, D.B.E
Active Crossbench Peer in the House of Lords.
Mixmedia, 30" x 36", 2011


  painting of Deb Williams

Deborah Williams
Writer, Theatre-Maker, Producer and Digital Composer
Mixmedia, 30" x 36", 2011

  painting of sir bert massie

Sir Bert Massie CBE
Former Chair of the Disability Rights Commission - new Commissioner for Compact.
Oil on canvas, 30" x 36", 2011

“It has challenged and heightened our awareness of the ‘voiceless’ model and the ‘voiceless’ viewer in this exchange with the artist." Lindsey Fryer, Head of Learning Tate Liverpool

“Tanya arranged the space so that the sitters, and Tanya’s works in progress, faced directly into the gallery once the double doors were opened. This was an irresistible lure for hundreds of members of the public who had the chance to talk to Tanya and her sitter of the day, and also to pick up some drawing materials and join in.” Marcus Dickey Horley, Curator of Access Projects Tate Modern

“……and it has challenged the perceptions of disability and disability art, leading to social change through the power of art.” Francis Nielsen, Education and Outreach Co-ordinator for Arts and Heritage Service Wolverhampton Art Gallery

'…impertinent in scale and wonderfully constructed' Sandy Nairne Director of the National Portrait Gallery

'…groundbreaking and really absolutely necessary' Jude Kelly Artistic Director of the Southbank Centre

Revealing Culture: HeadOn Exhibition Tour & Live portrait Events 2010-2011

  • HSBC Headquarters, London 2013
  • Southbank; The Museum of the World Exhibition - Cultural Olympiad Festival June-August 2012
  • Solihull Arts Complex 27th June -13th August 2011& Artists talk/tour/drawing live 7th July 2011.
  • Dash Space, Shrewsbury 2nd-10th July 2011
  • Plymouth University 8th -10th April 2011
  • DaDa Fest 10 International, Bluecoat, Liverpool 18th November-3rd December 2010

"I delved into the public art collections on display in Tate Liverpool and Tate Modern, seeking representations of the untold culture of disability. Initiating discussion with members of the public proved to be enlightening and exciting as they considered the visibility of Disability Culture within our civic art collections. Tate Modern, Tate Liverpool and Wolverhampton Art Gallery supported this pioneering project hosting the live portrait sittings throughout 2010 - 2011 - creating a platform for a dynamic way in to disability history and cultural identity.

I was influenced by these lively discussions; and devised a new collection of visionary portraits depicting disabled cultural figures which I hope will provoke further discussion and encourage a series of social and cultural changes within our art galleries.

These full body portraits, featuring both clothed and nude sitters, capture the subjects in full flow. The sitters chose objects to bring to the live sittings. These objects were of a personal and cultural significance instigating conversations with myself and the public about disability culture and its history. The paintings and drawings describe these objects and moments in time, as we are told of their achievements, and ways in which the sitters have implemented cultural shifts, affecting the way we live our lives today.

Tate Modern, Tate Liverpool and Wolverhampton Art Gallery supported this pioneering project and hosted the live portrait sittings; creating a platform for this dynamic exploration of disability history and cultural identity. The series of portraits explores the lives of Disability Culture in paintings and in multimedia with Revealing the Untold; an Illustrated collection of recorded testimonies by the sitters".

The collection also includes:

R:Evolve – Mix media canvas. 8fthigh x 38" - An extraordinary participatory artwork which confronts the ever increasing taboos surrounding the nude and disability: life and the nude; being nude with one’s self; and the nude in art. Together this revolutionary collection challenges the perception of the disabled nude - as seen on the BBC'S The Culture Show. Created in partneship with Tanya Raabe and Ouside centre. http://www.outside-centre.info/.

As an Associate Artist and Director of Fittings Multi Media Arts 2010/13 http://www.fittings.org.uk/ the idea of creating artworks that illustrate the rehearsal, a mysterious unseen process of a performance - visualising the rehearsal of Raspberry: A truly marvellously inspiring piece to get my creative juices flowing was born. A portrait of a portrait in loose expressive drawing, paint and digital media is what I ended up with. Combining drawings of the musicians and actors passion in the portrayals of the characterisations along with some hearty music and singing was created into the animation ‘Raspberry The Rehearsal’. As a painter of people I also wanted to express my brush in a contemporary painting of the rehearsal where I was influenced by the 14th century triptych paintings. ‘Raspberry Ripple’ was born! This captures the essence of the performers captured in moments of time. Raspberry is a performance influenced by the life and times of Ian Dury. These artworks toured 15 venues in the UK including The Oval Theatre, London and Tron Theatre, Glasgow.

painting ' Raspbery tryptic

'Raspberry Ripple' Triptych 2010. Mix-media on canvas. 76" x 20"

Raspberry The Rehearsal from Tanya Raabe on Vimeo. 2010

'Catalogues of 'Revealing Culture: HeadOn - Portraits of the Untold' are for sale £10 plus postage and packing. Email: tanraabe@gmail.com

Articles published


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All artworks are © Tanya Raabe 2011. All Rights Reserved. Reproduction without permission is prohibited.