Dada Portraits

by Sarah Harvey Richardson

Drawing inspiration from Dada methods, you will create a portrait exploring chance and the (re)combination of existing images and text to create new surreal creations.

Don’t forget to submit your creations or post online and tag @natsatclub and @uolartsoutreach

Also, check out Cut-Up Poems and Chance Animations Projects



What is Dada?

In the Dada manifesto of 1918, proclaiming his ‘Dadaist disgust’, Tristan Tzara (1896-1963) wrote, ‘DADA DOES NOT MEAN ANYTHING’ (Seven Dada Manifestoes and Lampisteries, Tzara, Calder Publications, 1992, p4)

But let us see what Tzara meant by that… Dada emerged in Zurich in 1916 at the Cabaret Voltaire, as a reaction to the catastrophe, horror and destruction of WWI. It was not an art movement, but a revolt against all that bourgeois civilisation had achieved and held dear, lampooning bourgeois values of Family, Fatherland, Art, Culture, Religion and so on. Asserting that, ‘there is a great negative work of destruction to be accomplished’ (ibid, p12), the Dadaists set about clearing the decks, sweeping away the debris.

What’s the point of Dada now?

Dada has been used by artists over the last 100 years to explore media, culture and the subconscious. Artists include Lubaina Himid and Hannah Höch.


Materials needed

  • Newspapers/magazines
  • Scissors
  • Paper
  • Glue stick
  • Sticky tape


Cut-up Portraits

Lubaina Himid (born 1954) is a British contemporary artist and curator born in the Sultanate of Zanzibar. She is a professor of contemporary art at the University of Central Lancashire in the north-west of England. Her art focuses on themes of cultural history and reclaiming identities.

She was one of the first artists involved in the Black Art movement in the 1980s and continues to create activist art which is shown in galleries worldwide. Himid was appointed MBE in June 2010 for “services to black women’s art” and won the Turner Prize in 2017.

Himid’s collaged portraits take images from magazines and recombine them to make new faces, using and reworking the material of everyday life in order to explore black identity.

Image source


1. Select 2-3 images of faces from a magazine/newspaper

2. Cut out features from the different faces and re-combine to create a new portrait

3. Fix your portrait to card or paper using glue or sticky tape

  • Did you think about colour and texture? If so, how?
  • Does your portrait represent someone?
  • Does it have a personality/character? What are they like? What are their interests?

The two portraits below where made by members of the University of Leeds Saturday Club

Submit your portrait or post online and tag @natsatclub and @uolartsoutreach


Resources & References

MOMA website – information on Dada

Lubaina Himid website

Tate website – Lubaina Himid

Find out more about the University of Leeds Saturday Club on our website ( and see more of our Club members artwork on Instagram @uolartsoutreach

Also, check out Cut-Up Poems and Chance Animations Projects

Contributed by Sarah Harvey Richardson, University of Leeds Art&Design Saturday Club

Sarah is the Outreach and Saturday Club Project Officer at the University of Leeds and delivers the Club in partnership with the School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies.

She has a background in gallery education and has previously worked at visual arts organisations including The Hepworth Wakefield and Pavilion, Leeds. Sarah is passionate about art, arts education and widening participation.

“It’s such an honour to be part of this fantastic project and to see our member’s confidence and creativity grow over the course of the year.”


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