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Jessica Mitchell's psychological portrait by Diogo Duarte


                                'Rage, rage against the dying of the light.' (2016)

"I sought out PhotoBard® at a pivotal moment in my life. I’d turned fifty and suddenly I was frightened all my best years were behind me. I felt such a conflicting jumble of strength and vulnerability, experience and uncertainty, hope and hopelessness. I wanted to feel beautiful but wasn’t sure if the world would ever see me that way with all my wrinkles, sags and stretch marks.


I had no interest in a studio style ‘beauty’ portrait but upon stumbling on Diogo’s PhotoBard® portraits, I got intrigued by the idea of an image that encompassed the powerful feelings I was struggling with. His surrealist, myths inspired style really appealed to me so I knew he’d be the one to take my portrait. I talked to him about my life and he created something extraordinary with his fantastic imagination.


I guess if anything sums up what my portrait ‘means’, it’s about my determination to live my life to the full right to the end despite any challenges or uncertainties." 


I came up with a concept for Jessica's PhotoBard® during our initial conversations but it wasn’t until later on that I revealed it to her.  My concept involved nudity and I wanted to know Jessica a little better to judge how much I could push the envelope with her.  I just took the time to really listen to be sure I had a true sense of what she wanted to share.  When I finally revealed the concept she bought into it straight away – she’s such a wild spirit and was a muse to me.  She trusted me and liked my work enough to let me push boundaries. She told me to go for it – so I did.


Making Jessica’s portrait was a true collaboration. I knew I wanted to bring into her portrait a boundless sense of freedom but at the same time I wanted to embed a sense of near claustrophobia – which fitted the concept like a glove as Jessica often talked about herself with words that alluded to both freedom and suppression. She has an incredibly strong connection to Dorset so I was happy to be led by her in the location scouting aspect of the portrait and we quickly discovered something that fit the bill perfectly – a wonderful cave overlooking the beautiful cliffs of Winspit where she used to have picnics with her family every Summer.


"My family and me came to trust Diogo during the journey of creating this image and we learned so much about ourselves. I knew this picture was a success when my teenage children asked if they could show it to all their friends and then insisted that it come to live on our sitting room wall. My daughter says I look full of fragile innocence but really strong too. My husband says it shows my mysterious, sexy and soulful sides. My son thinks I look as if I have been reborn from the womb-like darkness and am readying myself to do battle with life. For me, every time I look at it, I see again the bright flame of Jessica, never really faltering, burning sustainingly and steadily as I change and adapt to what this terrifying and wonderful world throws at me."

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