To celebrate Women’s History Month 2023 and showcase some of the most important 18th and 19th century, Modern and Contemporary women artists, Bowman Sculpture and Guerin Projects, have announced ‘The Power of She: A Tribute to Women in the Arts’.
‘The Power of She’ celebrates women in the arts and will bring together a diverse selection of artworks across different mediums. The exhibition will feature 14 artists from the 18th century through to the present day and will explore a multitude of themes from the silent history of female artists, women's current role in society, to humanity's relationship with nature and the human condition.
The exhibition will be held at Bowman Sculpture’s iconic gallery space in the heart of St James’s, London, from 5th May to 16th June 2023, and has been conceived by women for women.
‘The Power of She: A tribute to Women in the Arts’ is a ground-breaking curatorial initiative from a duo of accomplished women curators: Marie-Claudine Llamas (Guerin Projects) and Mica Bowman (Bowman Sculpture). This exhibition will feature some of the most exciting 19th century and modern sculptors including: Camille Claudel, Elizabeth Frink and Barbara Hepworth, juxtaposed with leading contemporary artists including Emily Young, Lily Lewis and Pauline Amos.
Celebrating the contemporary, the modern and the timeless, the curation of this exhibition will encourage a dialogue between the historical and the contemporary in a frank and thought-provoking manner. While the exhibition will focus on works of art, the 6-week program will include a performance by Natascha Mair, Prima Ballerina of the English National Ballet, female musicians and DJ’s, talks from several artists involved, including Emily Young, described by the Financial Times as “Britain’s greatest living stone sculptor” as well as a special talk from New York gallerist Hong Gyu Shin, who rediscovered two 20th-century female artists - Carla Prina (1950s) and Else-Fischer-Hansen (1960s) and brought them into museum collections.
Helmed by 2 women curators passionate about providing a platform for female creativity, the exhibition will take place in Mayfair, the epicentre of what has traditionally been a male-dominated art world, ‘The Power of She’ promises to shake up the patriarchy. Marie Claudine and Mica are at the forefront of a handover of the curatorial baton to a new generation, with this passion project designed to put women artists front and centre.
The overarching theme that ties everything together in this show is about women's voices: those women from earlier centuries or even decades whose voices may not have been heard or appreciated during their own lifetimes, and those of the living artists we are working with who do have a voice. While I cannot say that we are living in a world currently where all women's voices are heard, although much progress has been made, especially in recent years, we feel it is important to continue to address the subject of inequality and to remember the women that came before us.
With ‘The Power of She’ we are addressing the representation of womanhood by women through the centuries. The exhibition will describe the different states, chapters and aspects which a woman goes through during the course of her life. This exhibition is about generosity of curation, it is highly expansive and introspective, offering the viewer a diverse view of the subject matter across media forms, including sculpture, painting, drawing, poetry and performative arts.
The exhibition’s venue - Bowman Sculpture – is a gallery which specialises in sculpture from 1860 to the present day and is the foremost gallery in the world for sculpture by Auguste Rodin. Mica Bowman is breathing some fresh air and a new perspective into the traditional sculpture gallery, which was founded by her parents Robert and Michele Bowman in 1993. Robert Bowman is an esteemed 19th century sculpture authority and appointed sculpture expert to the UK government.
Although the gallery is known for procuring the finest examples of works by Rodin available on the market, the gallery also deals in works by Camille Claudel whose work will be featured in ‘The Power of She’. Perhaps most widely known for her controversial and tragic love affair with Rodin, which has been highlighted in two films and several books, Claudel now has her own museum, the Camille Claudel Museum in Nogent-sur-Seine, and her works are considered integral to any serious collection of sculpture from this period. Despite the fact that her work is now fully acknowledged by the art world today, Claudel faced many barriers as an artist but more importantly as a woman at the turn of the century.
You can count the names of famous women artists from a couple of centuries ago on one hand. If that. In centuries past, and millennia past, a woman’s fate was her womb. A woman’s lot was most often one of bearing and burying babies. So it's not surprising there were not many women artists. All humans are equally subject to the natural laws of the Earth to live and breathe and thrive, or not. Every human needs to know this.
‘The Skies Daughter’ to be featured in ‘The Power of She’ is carved from a piece of Lapis Lazuli. It was mined in a high mountainous region of northeastern Afghanistan. The working conditions there are extremely harsh, but the work in the mines provides some income for local people. Lapis has been mined there for at least 8,000, possibly 9,000 years. As Pliny the Elder said of it, “The starry heavens above, Lapis below.” It was and is one of the most treasured and beautiful stones on Earth. My work is inspired by the beauty of the natural world and the skies. Also, the fact that stone can endure for billions of years - out of the past and into the future. I touch it now, making marks that carry something of human consciousness into that future.
Lily Lewis is exhibiting her ‘FACES’ series and explains: "The faces in the series are all secondary characters in major literary works, their positions in the plot are crucial but overshadowed by the ‘heroes’. With this ‘FACES’ series I’m playing with the concept of the ‘ideal’ as a un-fixable point, and questions of agency and “main character energy” within the narrative structures inherited and upheld through history and literature. These overlooked characters were at best secondary and at worst toxic tokenistic extended adjectives, lending colour to plot and prose. These faces seem almost ghostlike, haunting, within the context of reimagined classical landscapes, painted with brushstrokes like the weave of binary in both physical textiles and the woven web of our computerised experience."
Pauline Amos describes the work she is exhibiting in ‘The Power of She’: "The work is visceral, disturbing, and purposefully provocative. The paintings are heavy with my own history and narrative. The world I experience, as a woman, interpreted and recorded in paint. The work, the art, is the person; the life force that is making the work. The paintings are documents and a record of an action or a time in life that has happened. These two paintings, ‘Fecund Fertile Fruitful Me’ (1 & 2), show my frustration and, more than that, a quiet desperation."