Ishbel Myerscough

Born 1968 London, England


Ishbel Myerscough studied at the Glasgow School of Art (1987–91) and the Slade School of Art in London (1993–5). She is recognised for her highly detailed and meticulously observed portraits which are formed from human connection. Rather than worrying if the portraits are anatomically correct, she focuses on capturing the relationship between subject and artist: ‘I’m not that interested in a likeness, particularly, I want a feeling from them.’ Myerscough won the National Portrait Gallery BP Portrait Award in 1995 and has since been commissioned by the gallery to paint portraits of Helen Mirren and Sir Willard Wentworth White for the collection. Her work has been in constant dialogue with British painter and long-time friend since art school, Chantal Joffe (also within The Women’s Art Collection). They have painted each other, and their families, for more than twenty years, exploring the changes in their bodies as well as their friendship. The two artists had a joint exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery, London, in 2015.


Artwork Information

In Fraser (Boyhood) (2017) artist Ishbel Myerscough depicts her son, Fraser. His direct wide-eyed stare and the intricate level of detail suggests the intimate relation between subject and artist. Myerscough explores human connections by painting her own children and those of her friends, as well as other family members. The resultant portraits are gentle interrogations of her subjects’ psychology.

The intricate depiction of small details such as hair, wrinkles, spots, and freckles, make her style highly realistic. The skin of the sitter is of particular interest: ‘It’s almost like you can see through the skin inside the person’. Fraser is an intimate study to this end. The zoomed-in perspective used for this portrait enables us to discover every freckle in the boy’s face. His faint moustache suggests the transitional period of adolescence – a time of great psychological adjustment.