A major touring exhibition, featuring 80 female artists from 1854 to the present day, has at its heart in the pioneering writings of novelist Virginia Woolf.
Kicking off at Chichester's Pallant House Gallery, and on show until 16 September 2018, it seeks to demonstrate how her perspectives on feminism and creativity have remained relevant to a community of creative women across time: visual artists working in photography, painting, sculpture and film who have sought to record the vast scope of female experience and to shape alternative ways for women to be.
Connections are both literal and suggested. Within the exhibition are works by those who had close relationships, and therefore shared ideas, with Woolf including Dora Carrington, Nina Hamnett and Ethel Sands. A biographical element is also present through the inclusion of works by Woolf’s sister Vanessa Bell – together they attempted to discard the idealised role of Victorian femininity embodied by their mother Julia Stephen, as well as the conventions and expectations endorsed by a patriarchal society.
Then there's the influence of Woolf’s ideas on subsequent generations – for example, Ithell Colquhoun, Gluck and France-Lise McGurn – which gives a sense of the legacy of her thinking, and its relevance to society today.
The exhibition recognises Woolf’s achievements whilst acknowledging the historic and ever-growing community of female creators and thinkers whose art resonates with her call to correct the ‘lopsided-ness’ of history. It is a celebration of this wider creative community and – in an era of increasing interrogation of gender inequality – acts as a rallying cry for women not only to reclaim territory, but to define a new realm for themselves. As part of this it positions the creative life as one of value for women.
Virginia Woolf: an exhibition inspired by her writings runs at Pallant House Gallery until 16 September 2018. The exhibition has been organised by Tate St Ives in association with Pallant House Gallery and The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge.