In 2019 Lady Margaret Hall, University of Oxford commissioned Hogan to paint Alan Rusbridger, the Principal. Her composite portrait of Rusbridger captures him on different days within a sixteen-month period of exceptional volatility, beginning with the first sitting in the Principal’s office at Lady Margaret Hall on December 11 2019. At each of the eleven sittings an oral historian (Cathy Courtney for National Life Stories at the British Library) was present, creating a life story recording with Rusbridger. The audio recording set his career within a wider autobiographical context, and covered events of international, national and personal importance as they evolved. Hearing the oral history conversations plays an important part in Hogan’s approach to portraiture, deepening her understanding of her subject.
As a former editor of The Guardian newspaper, Rusbridger’s comments on current affairs were of particular interest, among them the eve of the 2019 British General Election, the proroguing of Parliament, negotiations over Brexit, the outbreak of Covid-19, the explosion of the #MeToo and #BlackLivesMatter movements, the 2020 American election and its dramatic aftermath. The Covid-19 pandemic led to a shift from sittings in person in College to online ‘meetings’ as lockdown necessitated Rusbridger working from home, his hair growing shaggier as the weeks progressed. The online sitting of November 4, 2020, found Rusbridger wearing layers of clothes, seated in a gazebo he constructed in the grounds of Lady Margaret Hall in order to greet students in safe conditions.
Eileen Hogan and Alan Rusbridger in Conversation, Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford, 2 July 2021
oil on panels 153 x 188 cm