Monday, 5 May 2014

Leonora Carrington; the Celtic Surrealist

Book cover with cut-out showing detail of "Three Women With Crows."
This mysterious book is a handsome, well illustrated and knowledgeable (if slightly expensive) catalogue for an amazing exhibition which I made a trip from Yorkshire to Dublin in December 2013 especially to see. Leonora Carrington was a British artist who spent almost the whole of her career Mexico. She is one of the 31 Women; I try to catch as many exhibitions as possible containing their work.

The Dublin exhibition at the Irish Museum of Modern Art was probably my only chance to see so much of Carrington's work in one place, most is on the other side of the Atlantic. I couldn't miss this huge retrospective of one of my favourites. It was wonderful to have free access to the three floors in IMMA's garden gallery and enjoy her boundless imagination in over 50 paintings, plus drawings, books, sculpture and tapestries by Leonora Carrington. Most of this work I had never seen before and much I hadn't even seen illustrated. With so much to see, I visited the exhibition on two successive days, would have liked to go back, but we had a flight to catch!

Tapestry "Iguana and Fox" with sculpture "Albino Hogg."
Carrington's extraordinary work is incomprehensibly underrated in the UK, though she is one of only a few British women artists whose work can fetch over one million pounds. She was a magical, mysterious and sometime surrealist painter, illustrator, writer and in her later years a sculptor. Her work is not to be confused with the very conventional and tasteful paintings of another Carrington - no relation - who was a member of the Bloomsbury set.  Leonora could only be described as a conventional artist because she used the more conventional medium of paint, rather installation or performance art.

Was my trip worth it? Definitely! The exhibition was suitably marvellous and even without the exhibition, I hadn't been to Dublin for 25 years. Despite the recent recession, it's still a lively and immensely charming city. We stayed in the George Frederic Handel Hotel, on the site of the Great Music Hall on the wonderfully named Fishamble Street, where Handel's 'Messiah' was first performed in 1742. Hallelujah!

 Was the catalogue worth the money (45 Euro)? Yes, it gives fascinating insights into the work of this fascinating artist, including an interview by Hans Ulrich-Obrist and comment by her son, Gabriel Weisz-Carrington. I will look at this book again and again.  n                                                                                                                                                                 *">Leonora">Leonora


  1. Hello Sue,

    I'm working on surrealist women for my final work at the university, and your blog has been a precious source for my research. I'd like to thank you in my work, but also get in touch with you for further informations (like : how did you get all those details about those women's lifes?) it would be great. I'm waiting for your news. You can contact me on my e-mail ( Sorry for my english, I'm a french speaker ...

    I hope you'll answer me soon :)

  2. Hello Caroline,
    I thought I had replied to you before. It must have got lost in the system somewhere!
    I will email you again, see if it works this time.