In celebration of International Women's Day, Fiona Alderton chooses some highlights in our collection
From teenage prodigies to a botanical expert commanding higher prices in her day than Rembrandt, find out more about some of the women artists in the collection and their pioneering paintings and careers.
Fiona's selection for the video includes:
Messengers by Bridget Riley
Portrait of a Man by Catharina van Hemessen
Alexandrine-Emilie Brongniart by Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun
A Boy and a Girl with a Cat and an Eel by Judith Leyster
Flowers in a Glass Vase by Rachel Ruysch
Self Portrait as Saint Catherine of Alexandria by Atemisia Gentileschi
Portrait of a Woman by Catharina van Hemessen
Self Portrait in a Straw Hat by Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun
The Horse Fair by Rosa Bonheur
Summer's Day by Berthe Morisot
Copyright Text/ Video: The National Gallery London
Victoria and Albert Museum London until 16 January 2022
From designer handbags to despatch boxes, vanity cases to military rucksacks, the exhibition explores our longstanding fascination with the bag. Featuring innovative designs from Mulberry to Karl Lagerfeld, bags carried by Jane Birkin to Sarah Jessica Parker, the heritage of Hermès to the streetwear of Off-White, and an exclusive look inside the world of the factory and atelier; Bags: Inside Out provides an unprecedented look at this global obsession. Further Information www.vam.ac.uk/exhibitions/bags
Emily Jo Gibbs ‘Horse Chestnut bag with Conker purse’ 1996, London Silk, copper wire Taking inspiration from nature, Gibbs designed this bag in the shape of a horse chestnut. The green surface acts as a shell that when opened reveals a ‘conker’ shaped purse. Realistic details such as copper wire points to represent the spiked surface of a horse chestnut demonstrate Gibbs care and craftmanship.
Nuovo Bidente Margaret Thatcher’s Handbag c.1984, possibly Italy Leather, metal During her tenure as Britain’s first female Prime Minister from 1979 to 1990, Margaret Thatcher understood the power of dress and accessories to emphasise her image. Her handbag became a recognisable symbol of both her femininity and power. Often referred to as her ‘secret weapon’ or the ‘sceptre of her rule’, Thatcher’s handbag even influenced a new verb, ‘to handbag’ meaning to verbally attack a person or crush an idea.
Copyright Text/Photo: Victoria and Albert Museum London
18 November 2020 – 31 May 2021
Lynette Yiadom-Boakye A Passion Like No Other 2012 Collection of Lonti Ebers © Lynette Yiadom-Boakye
The first major survey of one of the most important painters working today
Lynette Yiadom-Boakye is a British artist and writer acclaimed for her enigmatic portraits of fictitious people. This exhibition brings together around 80 works from 2003 to the present day in the most extensive survey of the artist’s career to date.
The figures in Yiadom-Boakye’s paintings are not real people – she creates them from found images and her own imagination. Both familiar and mysterious, they invite viewers to project their own interpretations, and raise important questions of identity and representation.
Often painted in spontaneous and instinctive bursts, her figures seem to exist outside of a specific time or place. Her paintings are coupled with poetic titles, such as Tie the Temptress to the Trojan 2016 and To Improvise a Mountain 2018. Writing is central to Yiadom-Boakye’s artistic practice, as she has explained: ‘I write about the things I can’t paint and paint the things I can’t write about.’
Yiadom-Boakye was awarded the prestigious Carnegie Prize in 2018 and was the 2012 recipient of the Pinchuk Foundation Future Generation Prize. She was shortlisted for the Turner Prize in 2013.
Further Information www.tate.org.uk
Copyright Text: Tate Britain
New Dates 5 November – 31 May 2021
Ntozakhe II, Parktown 2016
Courtesy the artist and Stevenson Gallery
© Zanele Muholi
Tate Modern presents the first major UK survey of visual activist Zanele Muholi
Zanele Muholi is one of the most acclaimed photographers working today, and their work has been exhibited all over the world. With over 260 photographs, this exhibition presents the full breadth of their career to date. Muholi describes themself as a visual activist. From the early 2000s, they have documented and celebrated the lives of South Africa’s black lesbian, gay, trans, queer and intersex communities.
In the early series Only Half the Picture, Muholi captures moments of love and intimacy as well as intense images alluding to traumatic events – despite the equality promised by South Africa’s 1996 constitution, its LGBTQIA+ community remains a target for violence and prejudice.
In Faces and Phases each participant looks directly at the camera, challenging the viewer to hold their gaze. These images and the accompanying testimonies form a growing archive of a community of people who are risking their lives by living authentically in the face of oppression and discrimination.
Other key series of works, include Brave Beauties, which celebrates empowered non-binary people and trans women, many of whom have won Miss Gay Beauty pageants, and Being, a series of tender images of couples which challenge stereotypes and taboos.
Muholi turns the camera on themself in the ongoing series Somnyama Ngonyama – translated as ‘Hail the Dark Lioness’. These powerful and reflective images explore themes including labour, racism, Eurocentrism and sexual politics. Further information www.tate.org.uk
Copyright Text/Video: Tate Modern, London