CHRIS FREMANTLE

What art have I seen? Dorothea Tanning

Posted in Exhibitions by chrisfremantle on April 9, 2019

Dorothea Tanning at the Tate Modern. Jake asked if in an exhibition of Max Ernst there would be so much reference to his wife – seems unlikely. Mostly we don’t know about the women in male artists’ lives, unless they are ‘muses’ or lovers. Tanning’s narrative in the interpretation panels is woven with Ernst’s.

Beside this it is also interesting that all the publicity images are from the first phase of her work, which is most obviously part of the Surrealist tradition we are familiar with. There is mention of the fabric sculptures, but no images of the later much more optically complex and freely painted works. These explore the fragmented sense of subconscious experience. Rather than glimpses through doors, we have actually fragmented elements merging in complex patterns and forms. The resolution of this in the room-scale installation of fabric forms is truly Lovecraftian.

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Reading

Posted in Texts by chrisfremantle on May 5, 2006

A Guid Cause: The Women’s Suffrage Movement in Scotland, Leah Heneman, Aberdeen University Press, 1991.

This book covering the early connections between suffrage, education and slavery, and the subsequent development of suffrage in Scotland as a strong and distinctive movement, with its own characters and events, is well researched and thoroughly readable.

My starting point was discovering somewhere that Fanny Parker, the neice of Lord Kitchener, had in 1914 with another suffragette, attempted to blow up Burns Cottage, Alloway. Parker was an active and militant suffragette and spent more than one episode in prison as a result. Not only was she forcibly fed by tube, but she and others were given ‘nutritional enemas’. This book set her attempt to bomb Burns Cottage in a clear historical context.

I also discovered another interesting connection. Louisa Innes Lumsden, another suffrage campaigner and one of the first three women to graduate from Cambridge, must be one of the Lumsdens’ of Clova. In the short biographical sketch it mentions that she was chair of the Rhynie School Board.

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