April 12, 2010
Until six weeks ago I’d had a beard for 25 years; lately it had become a wild beard too. It was due for a trim and I needed £400 to open a temporary homeless shelter. So I decided I’d get some sponsorship for shaving the beard off completely. (In the end I raised £600.)
Shaving the beard came as more of a shock than I had anticipated. Once it was gone I not only had a new face in the mirror but a whole new set of expressions. Ghosts flickered across my reflection: my late father (which was no surprise) and the face of the poet Philip Larkin (which was unexpected).
I’d thought that one of the first things I would do was draw a self portrait but that was impossible because I could see nothing in my new face to get hold of. Even after six weeks it was a confusing business because I had to work entirely to the face in the mirror without any sense that what was appearing on the paper was me.”
-William Saunders from London