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'Portrait of Peter'

This two-minute audio clip describes the sculpture Portrait of Peter by Peter Palmer (active 1970–1972).

Portrait of Peter

Portrait of Peter 1970–1972

Peter Palmer (active 1970–1972)

Portsmouth Museums and Visitor Services

Full audio description text

Portrait of Peter is an almost life-size sculpture of a clothed, male figure, sitting on a bench. He's a young man with a mop of hair. His eyes and mouth are closed, and his hands are thrust into his jacket pockets. The sculpture is located within a black, painted alcove, at the top of the stairs on the second floor of Portsmouth Museum. Several suspended and illuminated glass lampshades from the museum collection cast light on him.

The sculpture is made of stone-coloured clay which is textured like fabric, including the folds and wrinkles. It's smoother on the trousers and there's a corduroy-like texture on his jacket and slippers. Made in about 1976, the artist, Peter Palmer, created the self-portrait by casting parts of his clothed body from which he made moulds. He pressed clay slabs into the moulds and then fired them. The finished pieces were assembled and glued together to create the final figure. The joins between the sections have been deliberately left visible, with gaps and raised clay seams. The sections shrank during firing so the figure is slightly smaller than life-size.

The piece is quite fragile and brittle because of the way it has been made – with no internal metal armature. It is permanently on display as this is the safer option for preserving the artwork than moving it.

Peter Palmer was a local artist who studied at Portsmouth Polytechnic, he was a student when he made this piece. It is one of the largest contemporary figurative sculptures in the museum collection. Visitors find the sculpture very engaging; its location is slightly unexpected and it takes people by surprise. They often want to sit with him and have their photographs taken.

Art UK and VocalEyes

This audio description was created by VocalEyes for Art UK Sculpture, a national project to document and increase access to the UK's publicly owned sculpture. This description is one of 25 representing sculpture collections across the UK.

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