Audrey Hepburn. For so many people that name means so many different things – but what does it mean to me? Well I think of Breakfast at Tiffany’s, grace, charm, elegance and humanitarian.

It is no understatement to say that Audrey Hepburn (and I realise she would have hated this) is my idol. Someone I can look up to in a way that I can’t with today’s celebrities.

So this new exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery is something that I have been looking forward to all of this year and now that I have been to see it – what do I think?

Going through her life chronologically, this exhibition impressed me because there were quite a few surprises in terms of the photographs that have been selected for the show. This mainly down to the fact that many of the images have never been displayed in public before (at least to my knowledge).

While I personally  didn’t learn anything new from the information that has also been selected to go alongside the images is clear and focused on her achievements, others less familiar with her background will certainly learn things they didn’t. But I have to admit I was slightly disappointed that there were certain elements that were underplayed, things that Audrey herself was proud of and passionate about.

This means her time working on The Nun’s Story was shown in two photographs – both lovely and really capture Audrey’s dedication to her work – but I felt that this was a film that meant a lot to her and her family as well as being one of her most successful. It would have been great to have seen more from that particular period.

While I can understand that adding more to that particular part of the display would have been difficult, I feel that there is no real excuse when it comes to her humanitarian work. Only two images – both of which show the children’s fascination with Hepburn as well as capturing Hepburn’s determination to help as many people as she could – are included and it feels almost dismissive of it (which I don’t think was the intention given her sons Luca and Sean’s involvement with the exhibition) .

But for the most part, the exhibition captures a thoughtful, playful character who was always dedicated to her work but never expected the level of success that she achieved in her life.

It is particularly lovely to see her working hard training as a ballerina – a career that was deprived from her for so many reasons – to see her joy and passion in doing something that she genuinely loved definitely puts a smile on your own face.

The Breakfast at Tiffany’s images (my all time favourite film) are focused and show how Audrey was changing for the times, growing as an actress and as a person – prepared to take risks in an ever changing industry that demanded a lot.

It is a wonderfully fascinating tribute to her work as an actress, with the photographs although clearly posed still have a naturalness about them that makes each image a pleasure to examine closely.

I should also warn anyone who intends on coming to be prepared to wait for tickets. The advance tickets for July are nearly sold out but there are still some available for August onwards. If you don’t want too pre-book tickets then I would also advise you get there as soon as you can on the day.

Audrey Hepburn: Portraits of an Idol is on display until the 18th October. 


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