London's galleries and museums are beginning to re-open after lockdown, and there's a new portrait hanging in the National Portrait Gallery to go and see.
Zadie Smith now joins authors such as Jane Austen, the Bronte Sisters and James Baldwin in having her portrait in the gallery's collection. The gallery commissioned Toyin Ojih Odutola to paint Smith's portrait, which Odutola has named Sadie, after Smith's real name.
Both artist and author have admired one another's work for many years, and Smith said the work - and being the subject of it - was "incredible" in an interview with the gallery. The piece also has historic resonance: Smith's afro will be the first of its kind on a portait of a woman in the gallery, a fact the writer said she delighted in.
More broadly, Smith said the work held significance, knowing that Black children would be able to "look at images of black people that require no self harm to appreciate, and to which they can bring the questions and curiosities of art rather than the desperate enquiries of identification and projection (“Is that really how I am seen by others?”)", which Smith said made her "so happy".
The portrait anticipates the release of Smith's next publication, Intimations, a collection of essays written during lockdown that examines and asks questions about humankind's response to crisis and suffering.
The National Portrait Gallery is currently closed for refurbishment, but you can look at Sadie online here.