Myself in Public

Beningbrough Hall - Sitters and Their Stories


Sitters & Their Stories

Beningbrough Hall 12th to 15th October 2017


An article about my participation on this event, why I applied, my story and what took place at the event has appeared on the National Trust intranet site MyVolunteering, a portal for all NT volunteers for news, updates  and aspects particular to and their volunteering on the 4th December 2017.




In August 2017 I successfully applied for the above National Trust event. My portrait to be painted by the professional award winning artist Tanya Raabe-Webber.

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             Centre Photo: From left - Louise 'Eliza' Gregory/Dorothy Cline/myself/Lisa Kelly/Amy Watson - October 2017



As the Beningbrough Hall web site stated regarding the event:

the four selected sitters all have a varied story to tell. Each with a different perspective of what diversity and freedom of expression means to them: 

Thursday 12 October – Jeremy Hutchinson


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Ben Portrait 02Diversity to Jeremy means a total embracement of any kind of difference with fairness for all. He believes in aiming for a world where we are all just people, no labels. A world where everyone feels included, respected and appreciated as a person, an individual. Jeremy chooses to wear society labelled female clothing because he feels comfortable in it; preferring the brighter colours, character and personality the selection offers. He is looking forward to sharing his perspective and discussing freedom of choice and expression.



Friday 13 October – Louise 'Eliza' Gregory and Dorothy Cline

Dorothy and Louise (known as Eliza Gregory professionally) are mother and daughter, each have had their lives immersed in art and culture. Dorothy has always loved art yet never considered it to be a career path. She has led a busy

Ben Portrait 01life raising a family and working, leaving little time to pursue her own passions. Retirement has finally provided the much needed time and space to now do so, developing as a keen pastel artist. Maybe this is why daughter Louise sought to follow her dreams from the beginning, as a published poet and musician. Both believe in art as a way to be free and look to explore this in their conversations on how culture contributes to an individual’s freedom.


 The above 3 photos © SUEY 177 PHOTOGRAPHY

Saturday 14 October – Lisa Kelly

Lisa started life as Dave, growing up in a small Yorkshire town in the 1970s. She knew she was not male and faced bullying throughout her childhood. Lisa’s experience of transitioning from male to female has led her to her campaign work to raise awareness of transgender people. Today Lisa is co-chair of the York LGBT Forum and cares passionately about equality and diversity for everyone.

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Sunday 15 October – Amy Watson

Amy is a 26 year old widow, mum to a four year old and lives in North Yorkshire. Through her life defining experiences she believes in living for the moment and has dedicated herself to equip her child to understand how one person can differ from another. During her husband’s illness and through her occupation as a nurse, she explores different cultural traditions and perspectives to provide a unique insight into common problems for example through Buddhism she found that the beauty of life is how it changes."


 The above 3 photos © SUEY 177 PHOTOGRAPHY


The four sitters all had 4 very differing stories but shared that common diversity and freedom of expression.

The event was funded by the National Trusts Prejudice and Pride programme in conjunction with Tanya Raabe-Webber and The Big Draw, a charity that promotes the "worlds biggest drawing festival" and encourages others to draw.

This event was on the back of a successful one off event Portraits Untold October 2016 funded and organised by the Arts Council in association with Tanya. Last years 4 sitters were chosen by the Arts Council from 4 different locations of the UK and the event held at the locations of the sitter. Beningbrough Hall was one of the locations. Local David Hoyle of the LGBT local community was the selected sitter at Beningbrough. This is the final portrait of him.


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This years event organised by the National Trust, covered diversity and not just within LGBTQ. The sitters were chosen from a short list by Tanya based upon the answers of the 4 questions the applicants needed to answer, without further knowledge of the applicant or the photograph supplied on the application.

This is the link to Sitters and Their Stories on the Beningbrough Hall NT web site.



The portrait was not concluded on the actual day. I was in the chair 12.30 pm to 17.00 pm with one break of 45 minutes.


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 Tanya will spend approximately a further 7 days on each of the four portraits over the next 3 months before a formal presentation to the sitters in Spring 2018 at Beningbrough Hall. This did not happen until 11th November 2018. 





039 1During each session the sitter, artist and audience engaged in conversation about the sitter, their story, and with the artist about art and her techniques whilst seeing a portrait created. The audience were encouraged to draw the sitter themselves via IPad or paper and pencil. Even I produced a drawing, obviously being a digital person I chose the IPad. I am not renowned for my drawing ability but it was included in my portrait, bottom centre, between the scarf. Acetate drawings were also undertaken as pairs and although not all took part, young and old did. Tanya then chose a selection of these drawings and acetates to be projected onto the canvass. These were then “inked” onto the canvass as an outline via ink and pipette. Members of the audience did the “inking” including myself and Mary.

The whole event was very enjoyable and it was an experience that I felt should not to be missed and very pleased I was able to take part. Mary and I actually went down on each of the four days where we both were able to have conversations with many about the event, my story and the PowerPoint presentation I had created and ran at the040 1 back of the room. The presentation was an automatic sequence of picture and narrative slides about myself showing the various activities, hobbies, building DIY, all aspects of ICT, fell walking that I do within my personal life including my reduced in time self employment and NT volunteering. It was based upon many of the photos on this site but it did include scenic weather shots I have built up over many years of walking and some close up shots of the garden I designed and created for one of my garden clients rather than just the 3 general ones on this site. It listed difficult to photograph activities and showed that where practical I do wear trousers but not because others expect it. It showed that I choose to go 041 1against the expected stereotype of my gender. For me my diversity is no different to 99% of women in this modern era from their previously expected society stereotype which they have broken – freedom of choice, expression, and individuality.

Visitors and audience members alike complimented my approach, and many even told Mary they were impressed with what I had to say about my story with many basically saying it is sad that a society in the 21st Century needs this type of “education” to have diversity accepted by others, when many expect their own freedoms within their own personal lives.

On each of the 4 days of this event, live streaming for a few minutes took place at 1.15 on Twitter and 3.15 on Facebook. For some reason my Facebook link did not work! Links relevant to myself have been shared to my Facebook timeline as unlike Twitter feeds Facebook is kept internal. My Twitter live feed by Beningbrough Hall, 1.15 pm on 12th October 2017 can be found here. The Facebook live session featured Amy Watson, Day 4 sitter initially followed by me finally being persuaded to "ink" in one of the projected audience drawings. I did feel quite uncomfortable! That is available on the Beningbrough Hall & Gardens Facebook page and also shared onto my Facebook time line. I am not very active on Facebook, in fact infrequent. It has been suggested I should use it like I do Twitter - time will tell!

YouTube postings for this event were a very short highlight of Day 2 of the event which lasts for 59 seconds. I am on briefly. Also a short video clip produced and aired by Thats York TV on the 13th October of 4 minutes 37 seconds. This was filmed on the morning of Friday 13th October before Day 2 started and is Tanya explaining about the event and the Art. My portrait is featured throughout as it was at that stage the only one.

This Twitter link is on Eliza Gregory Twitter account and taken by her on the 13th October, 2017 when Tanya was doing an acetate drawing of me.

York St John Fine Arts came to my day as sitter with some students. They had a private session with Tanya in the morning followed by time with me when I started at 12.30. After their lunch they had "free time" at the Hall and they chose to spend it back in the Hall embracing the event Sitters and Their Stories. I came across this photo of me as a sitter on the FineArtysj Twitter account.

I do know the event was advertised within the local media. Yorkshire Post came for a few minutes on the afternoon of Day 4 but I have not found anything on it and two people who know me have said they saw the group photo at the top of this page in their local newspapers and recognised me. The event has obviously been circulating via Twitter tweets and retweets including via The Big Draw.


Would I do this event again, or any other like it – yes without any doubt or hesitation.


Examples of the art work drawn of myself as the sitter by some of the audience.

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At the end of the session, 5pm, public departed, Tanya and myself sat on the front row discussing the portrait and event with Mary (my wife) and myself "inking in" the sketches of the sitters on Friday and Sunday.

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This is how the four portraits were at the end of the first day for each sitter.

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#TheSkirtedMan                          #Mothership&I


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    #LisasFreedom                       #TheLaughingWidow

 11th November 2018 was a date eventually set for the presentation of the the portraits to the sitters. The following 4 photographs are of the 4 finished portraits.


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The following are a few photographs my wife took of the presentation.


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Twitter links to the presentation day:

Beningbrough Hall Twitter

Tanya Raabe-Webber Facebook



The Making of The Portrait

This is a gallery and slide show of 29 photographs taken throughout the period 12.30 pm to 5 pm on 12th October 2017


My Application to be part of Sitters and Their Stories October 2017

This page can only be accessed from here on this web site.

There are two internal links at the top and bottom of this "Application" page to come back here.



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