Notes on Gazes

Image © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Miniature eye jewellery: a
portrayal of an individual's gaze as opposed to just a portrait of someone's eye.

Subjective or objective?

The observer and the observed: the difference between being seen, and seeing. Here, in this sense, it's confused. The painted eye views the human eye, views the painted eye, views the human eye… ad infinitum. A never-ending and unspoken reciprocal dialogue.

Anonymity. I know it's your eye. You know it's your eye. Everyone else however is in the dark. And a hundred years from now, certainly, that tacit understanding is entirely lost.
All that voluminous emotion embedded into one tiny painting, worn on a finger, across the heart or buried away under a shirt. Vanished. Gone.

But it's still relevant.

We know that someone cared for someone. Maybe lovers, maybe siblings, maybe mother and daughter. And something was exchanged. And we know that some part of that something, the part that is tangible, is ever vigilant in its gaze.


1 a figure of speech in which an abstract thing is personified.

2 a figure of speech in which an imagined or absent person or thing is represented as speaking.

ORIGIN: mid 16th cent.: via Latin from Greek prosōpopoiia, from prosōpon ‘person’ + poiein ‘to make.’

More information in:
Treasuring the gaze: eye miniature portraits and the intimacy of vision, Hanneke Grootenboer, The Art Bulletin, September 2006.

The Art of Mourning