Fri, 23 Jun|
Studio West Gallery
Friday Lates | Preview Evening Studio West Gallery
Part of Friday lates, join STUDIO WEST for a late-night opening until 8pm on the 23rd of June to celebrate Kensington + Chelsea Art Week.
When + Where
23 Jun 2023, 11:00 – 20:00
Studio West Gallery, Unit 1, 216 Kensington Park Rd, London W11 1NR, UK
STUDIO WEST is proud to present The Angel in the House, a group exhibition featuring seven emerging UK-based female painters. Taking John Everett Millais' intricate painting The Bridesmaid (1851) as its starting point, the exhibition seeks to ignite a transhistorical discussion centring around notions of femininity in the context of domestic space.
Get a first look at the exhibition from 11am- 5pm on the 22nd of June 2023. Join us for a late night opening until 8pm on the 23rd of June to celebrate Kensington + Chelsea Art Week (@kcawlondon) , a borough-wide celebration of art and culture.
Jess Allen (@jessallenartist)
Pippa El-Kadhi Brown (@pippa.elkadhi.brown)
Olha Pryymak (@olhapryymak)
Florence Reekie (@florencereekie)
Elena Rivera-Montanes (@elenariveramontanes_art)
Grace Tobin (@gracetobinart)
Xu Yang (@_xu.yang_)
Taking John Everett Millais' intricate painting The Bridesmaid (1851) as its starting point, the exhibition seeks to ignite a transhistorical discussion centring around notions of femininity in the context of domestic space.
Held in the Fitzwilliam Collection in Cambridge, England, Millais’ The Bridesmaid is an unassuming yet richly symbolic piece. Hidden beneath its entrancing beauty, the diminutive portrait conceals a nuanced condemnation of the confines placed on women’s existence in the 19th century. The central figure, a redheaded young woman, is pictured with apprehension in her eyes as she performs a folkloric ritual on St Agnes’ Eve: while passing a piece of wedding cake through a ring nine times, her future husband appears before her and she is presented with the very man who will shortly steal her innocence.
More than a portrait, the painting is an allegory. Millais deliberately juxtaposes symbols of chastity and innocence with signifiers of sensuality and sexual awakening - an ornate orange blossom corsage contrasts with an obtusely phallic sugar shaker which disrupts an otherwise balanced composition. In doing so, the piece complicates the then prevalent conceptualisation of women as either pious and passive wives or sinful charlatans and wanton seductresses. The former archetype is best typified by the Victorian expression ‘the angel in the house’; a phrase used to signify a saintly, silenced and submissive wife whose sole purpose was to exhibit absolute devotion to her husband. Instead, in The Bridesmaid we find a creature of agency - with feelings, fears, and desires of her own - who stands between these binaries and in opposition to the path that is being forcibly laid before her.
Drawing its title from this same phrase, this group exhibition gently unravels ribbons of thought invoked by The Bridesmaid. In exploring contemporary scenes of domestic life, the works on show question and complicate reductive understandings of femininity and bring to light the many facets of these women artists’ lived experiences and inner-worlds. Neither rejecting nor wholly embracing traditions associated with the feminine, the artworks on show reapproach the relationship between women and domestic space while revisiting age-old signifiers of femininity in a new light. Seemingly unconnected objects – flowing silks, clambering weeds, bejewelled brooches and polished jugs – become symbols of the artists’ deep-felt connections with their homes and of the formation of their identities. Meanwhile, painterly renderings of intimate space become the stage upon which the exhibition plays out a reimagining of ‘the angel in the house’ for the 21st century.
Tuesday By Appointment When Possible
Wednesday to Friday 11am - 5pm
Saturday 11am - 5.30pm
Unit 1, 216 Kensington Park Road
London, W11 1NR