“She could have done it differently of course; the colour could have been thinned and faded; the shapes etherealised… it would never be seen; never be hung…and there was Mr Tansley whispering… “Women can’t paint, women can’t write …” (Virginia Woolf, The Lighthouse).
The refrain “Women can’t paint, women can’t write …” echoes throughout Woolf’s To The Lighthouse. Ironic considering, widely acclaimed, the novel defies the latter statement and, Woolf’s sister, Vanessa Bell, controverted the former with her astounding body of work.
Not only did she prove that women can paint, but famed for her designs and textiles, Bell demonstrated the practices and skills of female artists extend well beyond the media of paint.
Vanessa Bell, Self-Portrait, 1952, c., Oil on canvas (left).
In 2019, the Ruth Borchard Self Portrait Prize Exhibition saw an extraordinary range of media used by female artists to depict the Self. Ranging from knitted acrylics and MRI scans to wooden structures and ceramics, the 2019 Exhibition reveals the ways in which this legacy of innovative, multimedia women artists has continued and through a diverse range of media female artists have continued to use their work to explore female identity and the concept of self.
In partnership with Artsy, the Ruth Borchard Collection are delighted to share a curated selection of these works in an online exclusive exhibition “Not Only Can Women Paint But…” .