Not everyone will want to know what they might look like when they are 70, but the artist Gillian Wearing is more than happy to contemplate it, dozens of times.
The National Portrait Gallery on Wednesday unveiled a huge wall of images called Rock ’n’ Roll 70 Wallpaper showing a digitally aged Wearing in about 30 different situations and clothes.
They include Wearing as a 70-year-old biker girl in a white vest with breast enhancements and tattoos, and a more down-to-earth Wearing in a dowdy yellow sweater posing happily with her real-life partner, Michael Landy, who is also digitally aged.
There is also a triptych comprising an image of Wearing as she is today, one of her digitally aged, and a blank space to be filled in with a photograph when the artist really is 70.
Sarah Howgate, the gallery’s contemporary curator, said Wearing worked closely with forensic scientists for the project. “It is exploring issues which affect us all … ageing, memento mori, the transience of life,” she said.
The work is part of a new show opening on Thursday that presents works by Wearing alongside pieces by the early 20th-century French surrealist artist Claude Cahun.
Both are from vastly different backgrounds but there are many parallels between them, hence the reason for the show.
Gillian Wearing and Claude Cahun: Behind the Mask, Another Mask is at the National Portrait Gallery from 9 March to 29 May.