LOVER'S EYES

In the 18th and 19th centuries, wealthy British and European lovers exchanged lover's eyes - A mysterious art form where eye miniatures were painted on to ivory and mounted as brooches, pendants or lockets. The identity of the portrait was intended to be a secret - these love tokens were so clandestine that even now, in the majority of cases, it is impossible to identify their recipients or the people they depict.

The secretive nature of lover's eyes captured my attention and led to an ongoing project in which I paint life sized eyes of strangers and mount in gold leaf surrounds or set into antique brass boxes. As with all of my work, the viewer is offered a license to stare, but these portraits offer another dimension to the act of looking - only a single eye gazing directly back is visible and the viewer becomes the subject - The tables are turned and now it's a staring contest.

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