Inventing a new artistic genre is quite a feat, especially when it’s one that has mass appeal and a snappy title. Yet tucked away on the top floor of Northlight Studios in Hebden Bridge, Roo Waterhouse is largely oblivious to the achievement. “I’ve never really thought of them like that,” she says of her splendid Shelf Portraits that are sending book lovers into a frenzy. The oil paintings capture people’s most treasured books, usually lined up on a shelf with the spines on display. Roo describes them as a “colourful glimpse into individual lives: little personal poems celebrating the significance of our treasured books and exploring how the books we accumulate build up a portrait of ourselves.” They began five years ago when she painted a row of old Penguin paperbacks she found in a Lake District holiday cottage. “It struck me then that reading is a very intimate thing and that you can tell a lot about a person from their bookshelf,” she says. She then painted her own “Shelf Portrait”, which sparked a huge amount of interest. It includes nature books she remembers from her childhood home, along with others she has read more recently. “Viewers really connected… Read full this story
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