Tate St.Ives until April 29th 2018. Curated by Laura Smith.

Spanish Landscape with Mountains circa 1924 Dora Carrington 1893-1932 Bequeathed by Frances Partridge 2004

As I walk around enjoying a lot of the paintings, it slowly dawns on me that they are all by women. As it’s so rare to encounter over 200 works by women in a space and none by men, I wonder why the Tate does not make this clear. Is it fear of criticism or is it the intention that visitors become gradually aware of this? Surely many will not notice – Is this the point?
The curator has thrown in a long list of women artists, including many living ones who have recently been in shows here. Their connections to the works of Virginia Woolf seem often to be tenuous.
The prevailing mood of the works is quiet, personal, delicate, lacking in any stridency, which rather perpetuates stereotypes of femininity.
The Judy Chicago sketch including Woolf in her dinner party show requires knowledge of that important feminist exhibition. Often one piece of art, like the Louise Bourgeois sculpture, seems meaningless alone when that artist’s work has usually been seen in installations where the visitor gets multiple impressions that add up.
There isn’t much about Virginia Woolf, or her writings; there isn’t the rather surprising completely abstract painting by her sister Vanessa Bell that has been shown before here.
It’s enjoyable, a bit incoherent, but worth visiting for many individual treats.

Mary Fletcher


volume 32 no 5 May / June 2018 p 33

1 thought on “Virginia Woolf: An Exhibition Inspired by Her Writings

  1. It is so incredible that the Tate didn’t mention that the works were done by only women; it would have been very important to make this fact known to the public. I wonder why they didn’t play up this aspect. Is it that they didn’t care or that it wasn’t a vital aspect, even though I suspect it was?

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