_ Mum’s the word
Street Level’s current show explores the relationship between mother and daughter through the work of eleven female photographers. Beatrice Colin investigates.
‘My mother is boring, irresponsible and embarrassing'.
The feelings of hostility mingled with affection inspired by a mother will doubtless be remembered by all women who happen across this small quote by Sarah. aged nine. It hangs below a family portrait by Angela Combes, in a show which brings eleven female photographers together to look at the unique relationship between mother and daughter. This idea is only the starting point: the exhibition also deals with the wider related issues of ageing, motherhood. lesbianism and attitudes towards the female breast. in an attempt to break down the one-dimensional image of women represented in the media.
Aren 'tyou like your Mum?. by Janet Edmeades, taps every woman’s secret dread — the thought
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that she might be turning into her mother. In a series of prints, a character-laden mother‘s face is shown in fact to be a clay cast. finally peeled off to reveal a much younger daughter. Lorna Bates uses a row of studies of her mother. beginning with a dewy-eyed portrait of her as a young woman then progressing to her older. slightly blurred face. to highlight the transience of conventionally recognised female beauty.
Motherhood tends to be portrayed in iconographic terms in the media. Using crisp documentary-style portraits and text, Brenda Prince and Melanie Friend challenge the stereotypes, one by exploring the experience of having a mother who is a lesbian and the other depicting the demands ofteenage motherhood.
Nancy Honey’s The Apple ofmy Eye. concentrates on the female
Aren’t you like your Mum? by Janet Edmeades. at Street Level
breast. Erotic or organic, its image still has mixed connotations, but in a series ofstudies ofclassical sculpture, ofbreast feeding. puberty and ofa breast operation. she puts forward a more truthful and emotional response to this part of the body.
Other statements include Jo Spence‘s photo-therapy work and Ingrid Hesling‘s monotone landscapes of maturity. punctuated by colourful ﬂashes ofchildhood.
Photography, by its very nature. captures the personal in a universal language. and — with montages. portraits and snapshots — this show is both highly autobiographical and visually striking. There is something here for every daughter. and son. to ponderon.
A Daughter's View is at the Street Level Gallery until 22 Mar.
A small, butwide-ranglng, exhibition of graphic works at Edinburgh’s Art College presents visitors with an unusual opportunity to sample the development of Italian artistic thought in the first half of this century- all through the works of one man, Carlo Carra (1881-1966).
Carra was a founder of the artistic and literary movement known as Futurism, a nihilistic, essentially anarchic philosophy which advocated the destruction of all previous ‘bourgeois’ art works, in favour of a clean slate and a fresh start. Indeed, he was a signatory oi one of the first Futurist manllestos, aimed at young artists, ‘to liberate them from lethargy’, and destroyed many of his own paintings before the First World War.
But paradoxically, as this selection
Head ota Gentleman, 1916
shows, he was also strongly influenced by the work of other artists: Picasso and the Cubists are echoed in drawings of rounded, chunkyfigures, Matisse and Leger in other images. Later he rejected Futurism tor the ‘metaphysical school' of De Chirico- evident here in etchings or drawings of mannequin- type, unhuman tigures- and, by 1924,
he was advocating a rejection of the European avant-garde, in favour of a return to figurative painting. Giotto (c.1266—1337), whose works Carra-the-Futurist would have had destroyed, became the inspiration of Carra-the-Classicist. His rediscovery of the Italian Renaissance masters was to have a considerable influence on his fellow artists.
The immediate drawback of this show is that, for non-specialists, there is little to place Carra in context; some reproductions of his paintings, or even his poems, would have helped fill out the picture. Stylistically, limit is not an artist to be pigeon-holed and Dr Colin Bailey, the college’s Head of Humanities, recognises that the very diversity of the exhibition may be oft-putting. ‘There doesn’t seem to be that same consistency in development
; that one usually finds in an artist of his : stature. But I think it’s to his credit that Carra was constantly experimenting, ‘ and that he had the courage to accept
that he could make mistakes. So many times he renounced things, publicly, which he’d earlier praised. To me that’s part of his tascinaflon.’ (Miranda France) Graphic Works by Carlo Carra can be seen until Fri 6 Mar, in the Andrew Grant Gallery of Edinburgh College of rt.
I The Paintings ot Frida
I Andriamparany. an Edinburghbased fashion designer. hopes to inject new impetus into the local craft scene with a regular Sunday arts and crafts fair at the Theatre Workshop in Stockbridge. It is hoped that the event will become a useful forum. particularly for young designers. for showing and selling an impressive array of original works— from paintings and pottery to sculpture. carving. tapestry and jewellery. The fair will take place every Sunday in March and regularly afterwards if it proves to be succesful. Would-be sellers interested in booking a stall at the fair should contact the organiser. Andriamparany. on 031 556 2513.
V IN PRINT
Kahlo Hayden Herrera (Bloomsbury. £25) In a world where female figureheads are thin on the ground. women artists are quickly seized upon to speak for their sex. regardless of their wishes. This happened to Georgia O’Keefe. who loathed the expression ‘woman artist'. but Frida Kahlo must be the most potent example — her huge legacy ofvibrant self-portraits inevitably concentrates on the condition of being female. Actually. Kahlo's paintings are more personal than universal. dealing with her heritage. her inability to bear children. and particularly with her love. in turn thwarted and reciprocated. for Mexican muralist Diego Rivera. llerrera‘s study of Kahlo's paintings is successful because it is not heavy-handed — it is a lucid reflection on the artist's work and life. rather than ananalysis. The book is exceptionally beautiful — illustrated with full-colour platesand countless photographs of Kahlo and Rivera. from childhood to death-bed. Next. Herrera should organise a Kahlo retrospective exhibition.
The List 28 February — 12 March l992 53