Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Sea Change ~ Art in St Ives 1914-1930

A review of the Penlee House Autumn 2010 Exhibition,
focussing on works by selected women artists

The approach to Penlee House is, to me, always accompanied by a lifting of the spirits. This elegant Victorian building, set well back from a busy road, offers a friendly welcome to the footsore visitor. The surrounding parkland is framed by tall trees enclosing a profusion of exotic plants reminiscent of the Abbey Gardens on the Isles of Scilly. The Art Gallery is home to the major collection of Newlyn School paintings (see ‘An Historical Perspective’).

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Lamorna Arts Festival 2010 ~ Open Studios

A look at the work of three women artists: Judith Kerr, Basma Ashworth and Margret Steigner

Perched at a dizzying height above the tiny harbour, Flagstaff Cottage was the focus of many social gatherings enjoyed by artists living in Lamorna in the early years of the twentieth century. Today the house is little changed, and remains the family home of the descendants of Samuel (Lamorna) Birch, the painter who one hundred years ago was instrumental in attracting artists, writers and intellectuals to the valley.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Laura Knight ~ Representations of Women

The early life of the painter Laura Knight was dominated by adversity and overshadowed by tragedy. Her father abandoned the family shortly before Laura’s birth in 1877, leaving her mother struggling to support three young daughters. Both her sisters were sickly, and when Laura was 12 her middle sister died. Two years later her mother died from cancer, and she found herself having to provide for herself and her remaining sibling. Laura somehow took over her mother’s job as an art teacher, convincing the authorities that she was older than she was.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

An historical perspective

Michelangelo had no baby’s bottle or teapot hanging round his neck’ 
~ Dame Laura Knight

Women artists of the twenty-first century seem to have it all. Two examples which spring to mind are Tracey Emin flaunting her promiscuity in textiles, and Louise Bourgeois (with whom Emin collaborated towards the end of the latter’s life) – maker of disturbing soft sculptures which grew out of the emotional pain inflicted by her father’s infidelity. This early experience cast a shadow over her French childhood, and shaped the tone of Bourgeois’ output. By the time of her recent death, she had achieved acclaim both in the USA, where she had lived since 1938, and internationally. However, it was not until late in life that Bourgeois achieved recognition as an artist in her own right. Until then she was known primarily as the wife of a prominent American art historian.