From Frida Kahlo to East End Suffragettes, escape from the heat into these gloriously female-centric exhibitions.
FRIDA KAHLO: MAKING HER SELF UP @ THE V&A
Now until the 4th of November 2018
One of the 20th century’s most important artists and most beguiling figures, Frida Kahlo conjures up a host of iconic images. Focusing more on the woman herself than the art she produced, this exhibition offers an incredibly intimate insight into Frida’s life. From her favourite Revlon nail varnish to her red embroidered leather-clad prosthetic leg (literally could you get any more badass?), this exhibition demonstrates how Frida turned her struggle into beauty. Showcased outside Mexico for the first time since her death, ‘Making Her Self Up’ is a celebration of Kahlo’s construction of self and her defiant originality. Go for her enviously exquisite wardrobe, stay for her complex and fascinating story.
You 100% need to book tickets in advance but it’s so worth it. Concessions are available.
LISA BRICE @ TATE BRITAIN
Now until 27th of August 2018
In her first exhibition at the Tate, Lisa Brice’s artwork takes inspiration from the art world’s long standing fascination with the female nude. Lisa challenges the predominantly male-centric perspective; in her work, the female figure is no longer the passive or sexualised object of the voyeuristic male artist. Instead, the women in her paintings are bold, colourful, and autonomous.
Not only is Brice’s work the kind you want to have plastered over every wall in your house, its positioning within such a long-established institution signals that reworkings such as hers deserve an equal platform in the mainstream.
THE WOMEN’S HALL EXHIBITION @ TOWER HAMLETS LOCAL HISTORY LIBRARY AND ARCHIVES
Now until 20th October 2018
The Women’s Hall is the definition of interactive history; the space has been transformed from a dusty archive to a hub of feminist activity. Step into the room and you’ll travel back in time to the campaign headquarters of ELFS (East London Federation of the Suffragettes) and their canteen. Active and vocal from 1914-1924, this exhibition explores the splinter group’s campaign for the vote and showcases lesser known campaigners such Melvina Walker and Daisy Parsons.
Even better, August marks a takeover of the space by Numbi Arts where they will be exploring histories of women from the East African diaspora and their links with the East End of London. Crucially, this exhibition recognises that telling a broader, globalised story of the women’s fight for suffrage can only be a good thing.
OUTSIDE THE LONDON BUBBLE
PERSONAL FEELING IS THE MAIN THING: CHANTAL JOFFE @ THE LOWRY, MANCHESTER
Now until 2nd of September 2018
Bold, bright and often humorous, Chantal Joffe’s paintings explore the complexity of key life milestones, crossing from teenage years to motherhood. Personal Feeling Is the Main Thing features portraits of those closest to Joffe, including her mother, her daughter, her friends, and most familiarly, Joffe herself.
Her portraiture is exhibited alongside art produced by Paula Moderson-Becker, a pioneering German artist who explored similar themes during the early 20th century. As the first Western female artist to paint herself naked (yaaas), her art seems particularly apt in conjunction with Joffe’s similarly open depictions of women.
If you can’t catch her in Manchester, Joffe has recently been commissioned by the Crossrail Art Programme to create a piece for the new Elizabeth line station at Whitechapel. So you’ll have Joffe to thank for making your commute that little bit more bearable.
LEE MILLER AND SURREALISM IN BRITAIN @ THE HEPWORTH WAKEFIELD, YORKSHIRE
Now until the 7th October 2018
Photojournalist and artist Lee Miller had a career most of us would dream of. She worked as a model during the 1920s and was then employed by British Vogue, first as a fashion photographer and then later as a war correspondent during the Second World War.
This new exhibition in Yorkshire celebrates her artistry in its own right, displaying both her photography and sculpture work. Miller is used as a focal point to explore connections between surrealist artists during the 1930s and 40s. Often imagined as existing only on the fringe of artistic movements, Lee Miller and Surrealism in Britain is an important reminder of women’s central role in driving forward creative change.
A CENTURY OF WOMEN IN CHINESE ART @ THE ASHMOLEAN, OXFORD
Now until the 7th of October
From folklore to everyday life, this exhibition displays representations of women in Chinese art over the past 100 years. Using a variety of mediums including textiles, ceramics and woodblock prints, it charts the changing representations of mothers, workers, and students. It covers a period of monumental change in China, including the establishment of the People’s Republic of China in 1949 and then later the Cultural Revolution. Women in Chinese Art is a fascinating artistic and historic record of women’s fluctuating rights during the 20th century, adding a nuanced and much-needed non-Western perspective.
Unless mentioned, all exhibitions are free (woohoo)
By Celine Nonde