6 Exhibitions You Need to Visit this Autumn

From the art world’s greatest power couples to a celebration of scientific sisterhood, this season Temper Femina has you covered.


Modern Couples: Art, Intimacy and the Avant-garde @ Barbican Art Gallery
Now until 27th January 2019
Prices range from £5 to £16 (depending on concessions etc)

Credit: John Kasnelsis; Dorothee Tanning and Max Ernst with his sculpture, Capricorn, 1947

Women are often sidelined in the celebration of the male artistic genius: Modern Couples seeks to redress this. It follows both the artistic output and the, often tumultuous, relationships of 40 creative couples. It consists of some of the biggest names in 20th Century modern art, including Dora Maar & Pablo Picasso, Frida Kahlo & Diego Rivera, and Federico Garcia Lorca & Salvador Dali. From deeply committed couples to the polyamorous, these relationships defined their work but also pushed the boundaries of the 20th Century norms. Often at the forefront of fluidity, they transgressed assumed gender stereotypes and challenged typical working relationships across painting, photography, literature, sculpture, music, dance, and design. Modern in its aims as well as its reflections, this is not one to miss.

First Amongst Equals & Ladies of Quality and Distinction @ The Foundling Museum
Now until 13th January 2019

Andrea Soldi, Isabella Duchess of Manchester, 1738
© Whitfield Fine Art

If you ever wanted a clear affirmation that women are being rewritten back into history, this is it. As part of a 2018 campaign, the Foundling Museum raised over £37,000 to take down the portraits of the male governors who dominated their Picture Gallery, and rehang it with 21 portraits of their first female champions. In short, the Foundling Museum has nailed it.

Alongside this radical rehanging, the Museum has also pulled together a display of objects chosen by women who have achieved firsts in their professional lives. From creatives like Joanne Moore (the first female tailor to have a men’s tailoring business on Savile Row), to legal experts like Baroness Hale of Richmond (the first female president of the Supreme Court). Mixing modern innovators with historical objectives, First Among Equals is a multilayered showcase of achievement.

Yayoi Kusama: The Moving Moment when I went to the Universe @ Victoria Miro 
Now until 21st December 2018
Free but you need to book online first

Yayoi Kusama, INFINITY MIRRORED ROOM – MY HEART IS DANCING INTO THE UNIVERSE, 2018. Courtesy Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo / Singapore / Shanghai and Victoria Miro, London / Venice. © Yayoi Kusama. Photography: Thierry Bal

Whilst you may not be familiar with Yayoi Kusama’s work, you’ll soon want to be. She is famed for her painted and dotted bronze pumpkins, coloured flower sculptures and large-scale Infinity Mirror Room. Kusama’s immersive work may be an instagrammer’s dream but her artwork is so much more than that.

Since early childhood, Kusama has experienced hallucinations of repeating patterns which now manifest themselves in her work. Turning a traumatic experience into art has lead to collaborations with Louis Vuitton (2012), inclusion in TIME Magazine’s World’s 100 Most Influential People list (2016), and most recently, a permanent UK installation for the new Crossrail station at Liverpool Street (2020).

As she approaches her 90th birthday, The Moving Moment when I went to the Universe is a deserved display of Kusama’s distinctive and iconic visions.

Outside of London

Lubaina Himid: Our Kisses are Petals @ BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Newcastle
Now until 28th October 2018

Lubaina Himid, Our Kisses are Petals. Installation view BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, 2018. Photo: Colin Davison © 2018 BALTIC 

This solo show of Turner Prize-winning artist Lubaina Himid encourages you to rearrange her work. This basement exhibition is comprised of colourful hanging textiles, inspired by the patterns, colours and symbolism of the Kanga, a bright cotton fabric traditionally worn by East African women. Adorned with words from writers like James Baldwin and Sonia Sanchez, for Himid, these textiles are both a highly symbolic and also literal way in which ‘one woman’s outfit talks to another’s’. She invites visitors to create their own dialogues and tell new stories by repositioning her work using a system of pulleys. For those who like their art movable and their interpretations adaptable, Our Kisses Are Petals is the one for you.

Annie Swynnerton: Painting Light and Hope @ Manchester Art Gallery
Now until 6th of January 2019

Annie Swynnerton, The Sense of Sight, 1895, Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, Courtesy National Museums Liverpool

This exhibition is certainly one of firsts. Not only is this the first retrospective of Annie Swynnerton since 1923, she was also a trailblazer of her time as the first female Associate Member of the Royal Academy (1922). Undefinable to any specific movement or style, Swynnerton was a modern woman who soared beyond her contemporaries.

Besides her artwork being intrinsically beautiful (think ethereal nudes inspired by her time spent in Italy), Swynnerton’s political legacy is equally as impressive. Alongside her campaign for political suffrage, she fought for better opportunities for female artists, establishing the Manchester Society of Women Painters and challenging the Manchester Academy of Fine Arts to open up membership, exhibitions and training to women. Her championing of women’s political rights translated into her subject choice; portraits of leading suffragettes sit comfortably alongside women of all ages and social standing.

Almost 100 years since her work was last fully showcased, Annie Swynnerton’s legacy is finally being given the attention it deserves.   

Women and Science @ Museum of the History of Science, Oxford
Now until 31st December 2018

Self Portrait Colour Photograph of and by Sarah Acland. She sits in the foreground on a chair and is holding her guitar. It has been taken outside.
Self Portrait Colour Photograph of Sarah Acland with her Portuguese Guitar, Early 20th Century

In their basement gallery, this Oxford museum has woven together archive material to showcase the work of four women. Covering scientists from Ada Lovelace, described as the world’s first computer programmer, to Sarah Acland, a 20th Century pioneer of colour photography. From the 17th Century to the modern, Women and Science is a much-needed attempt to bring female scientific discovery to the forefront of public knowledge.

As part of this, they also encourage you to take a walk beyond the confines of the archive, following the Shout Out for Women Trail across the collections of Oxford University’s gardens, libraries and museums.

This multiplatform exhibition is further supported by talks by leading authors. A date to add in your diary is a Dr Patricia Fara’s lecture on the 22nd of November 2018 where she’ll be discussing her book ‘A Lab of One’s Own: Science and Suffrage in the First World War. She explores the female doctors and scientists who made huge medical and scientific strides during the First World War, but who were then relegated out of the labs, back into the home.

Women and Science is an inspirational and interactive exhibition, encouraging you to pay homage to the female pioneers and inventors at the forefront of science and technology.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s