Women Artists close out the year at Exeter’s RAMM, with an exhibition that finishes 2018, kicks off the new year and runs into summer.
Exeter’s city museum has put the spotlight on the women aritsts in its fine art collection. Work on display will span the years from 1770s right up until 2011.
With 2018 being such an important commemoration for the suffrage movement in the UK there’s something fitting about the exhibition including the work of suffrage artist Olive Wharry. That her image covers another recent event of reflection for the city – Exeter after the blitz – is another bonus, and reflects how the tendrils of history and experience intertwine.
The importance of Lucy Kemp-Welch
Instrumental in developing the exhibition was Lord Dundonald’s Dash on Ladysmith by the artist Lucy Kemp-Welch, which is on public display for the first time in decades following a successful fundraising appeal for its conservation.
Painted 1900-1901, it shows the relief of Ladysmith, during the Boer War. The painting even has some historic weaponised Winston Churchill controversy. There was a public ‘was / he wasn’t he’ debate as to whether Churchill, who was included in the picture was there. And if he was, did he take part in the battle?
Lord Dundonald’s Dash on Ladysmith inspired RAMM fine art assistant curator Michele Green to look into Lucy’s history. Michele found that she was an important artist, with a reputation for being a gifted painter of the horse, whose work should be made more of.
That led to Michele looking a the RAMM’s collection and the not unsurprising imbalance between male and female artists.
From the 18th century to contemporary work
The exhibition includes works by the Victorian children’s book illustrator Kate Greenaway. Along with detailed watercolour studies of birds and insects by Miss Ann Lee painted in the 1770s.
There are also modern works by Barbara Hepworth, Gillian Ayres, Mary Martin, Dame Laura Knight, Primrose Pitman and Judith Ackland, and more.
Exeter’s Fine Art Collection: Women Artists
8 Dec to 9 June 2019
top image: Morning by Isabel Codrington, 1934.