The Enchanted Interior at Guildhall Art Gallery - Virtual Tour

Guildhall Art Gallery, Guildhall Yard, London
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A major exhibition at Guildhall Art Gallery will feature work by over 50 artists that draw upon the historic depiction of women in enclosed and ornate spaces, including contemporary works which ‘speak back’ to the tradition.

The Enchanted Interior at the City of London Corporation’s art gallery will question the metaphor of the ‘gilded cage’ and bring together work by Edward Burne-Jones, Evelyn De Morgan, James Abbot McNeill Whistler, and Fiona Tan, as well as pieces selected from the City Corporation’s art collection and important loans from across the UK.

Paintings, furniture, photography, film, decorative objects and installation are interwoven throughout the exhibition to cast light upon the duality of the interior as both sanctuary and threat. The works of the past showing the female motif, in conversation with contemporaneous responses, add to the argument about what has really changed for women in the last two hundred years.

Highlights include Edward Burne-Jones’ Laus Veneris (1873-75) and The Lady of Shalott by John William Waterhouse (c. 1894), in which the famed subject is trapped in a tower, unable to engage. Blurring the lines between the historic and modern are works such as George Frampton’s Lamia (1899-1900), a mythical femme fatale from John Keats’ poem, in which the polychrome mixed media materials and realist depiction of the sculpture are shockingly contemporary.

Nele/Nellie (2013) by Fiona Tan portrays the illegitimate daughter of Rembrandt Van Rijn pacing unhappily around a highly decorative house, similar to the one in which she was confined until her father’s death. Highlighting the shame of illegitimacy and how men controlled women, Tan questions to what extent the shackles of the interior have changed. Installation, photography and moving image work by other contemporary artists, such as Martha Rosler and Maisie Broadhead, reveal more complex ideas of enclosure and enchantment.

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