A Portrait of Faith

The religious landscape of Britain is changing and for the first time, more than half the population say they have no religion. The 2017 British Social Attitudes survey revealed that the generation gap on religious affiliation is widening, and whilst there is irreligiosity in all generations, it appears young people are driving this change (source: National Centre for Social Research). At the same time, a 2018 study by the Prince’s Trust identified that young people are rapidly losing faith in their ability to achieve their goals in life and that happiness across every single area of their lives has never been lower. The Trust’s annual UK Youth Index (April 2018), based on a survey of those aged 16 to 25, revealed that three out of five young people regularly feel stressed amid concerns over jobs and money, while one in four felt “hopeless”, and half had experienced a mental health problem.

In ‘A Portrait of Faith’, created as part of the Sixteen national exhibition, Roberts has created a series of video portraits of individuals in their place of worship. His sitters (representing Anglicanism, Roman Catholicism, Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism, Judaism, Baptist, Coptic Christian and Judaism) each pose for the camera for several minutes, remaining as still as possible in a similar fashion to mid-19th century photographic portraits. They are filmed in vertical format for HD plasma flat screen monitors and sized at a near 1:1 relationship between viewer and subject. Initially the portraits appear as still photographs, however, on closer inspection the viewer can see subtle movements in the sitter, such as a blink of the eye or tilt of the head. These long portraits become simultaneously mesmerising and unnerving.

Alongside the portrait each individual offers a short monologue where they talk about their current life situation, their hopes, dreams and fears for the future.

Select the video clip symbol under the portraits to view the videos.