visual culture wales

Articles by Huw David Jones

On Reflection: Seven Women Artists

On Reflection is a selection of work by seven women artists drawn from the Glynn Vivian Art Gallery and National Museum Wales. Including historical and contemporary images in a range of media, the exhibition focuses on the representation of women by women in the form of portraits or self-portraits.

Sue Williams

Sue Williams

The question of how women are seen and see themselves is important sinceportraiture is not only a traditionally male pursuit, but also one where the sitter often becomes the object of masculine desire or pleasure. Naturally, this exhibition provides a range of female responses. Some, such as the self-portrait painter Shani Rhys-James, produce work that is deeply personal. Others, like performance artist Berni Searle, explore issues of wider social and political significance, such as the damaging construction of gender or racial stereotypes.

For those less interested in the academic questions at hand, the show nevertheless features some beautiful works of art. One notable example is Gwen John’s contemplative portrait of a nun, made when the Tenby-born artist was living in Paris during the early-1900s. (John converted to Catholicism shortly after her affair with the French sculptor Auguste Rodin.) Another gem is the work of Brenda Chamberlain, whose paintings of domestic interiors also exude a sense of calm as they focus on female figures. On reflection this makes for an inspired exhibition, both intellectually and visually.

On Reflection is at the Glynn Vivian Art Gallery, Swansea, from Sat 5 Jul till Sun 14 Sep.

This post was originally published by Buzz magazine.

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