Artemisia Gentileschi

Artemisia Gentileschi: Self Portrait as St Catherine of Alexandria

Artemisia Gentileschi, the most celebrated female painter of the 17th century, was born in Rome in 1593. Her date of death is unknown, but it must be after 1654 when she is recorded as living in Naples. Self Portrait as St Catherine of Alexandria (c 1615-17) has recently been acquired by the National Gallery in London, restored, and sent out on tour to unusual and unexpected destinations including a library, a school, and a health centre. The painting’s first stop is Glasgow Women’s Library where it is on display until 19th March, so hurry along if you are in the area.

Who was St Catherine of Alexandria? In the 4th century she was sentenced to death for her Christian beliefs and tied to a wheel studded with iron spikes. Although she was miraculously freed by angels, she could not escape a martyr’s death and was later beheaded. In Artemisia’s portrait she leans on the broken wheel with her left hand while her right hand holds a martyr’s palm. I spent an hour in the same room as Catherine / Artemisia and continually returned to that beautiful, clear gaze.

You can read more on the National Gallery’s site:

I wonder if Artemisia would approve of being added to a blogging challenge? If it gets more people looking at her wonderful painting, maybe she would. I’m linking to Becky’s Spiky Squares.

Artist Textiles at New Lanark

Horrockses Fashions c1949

Horrockses Fashions epitomised the traditional cotton summer frock in the 1940s and 50s. They were considered affordable, but were also worn by celebrities including the Queen, Princess Margaret and Margot Fonteyn, and the fabric was often designed by well-known artists. The dress on the left uses fabric by Alastair Morton and the other two are by Graham Sutherland.

Aztec by Patrick Heron 1946

The dresses and fabrics in this post are part of the exhibition Artist Textiles: Picasso to Warhol which began life at the Fashion and Textile Museum in London in 2014. Since then, it has been to the Netherlands, the USA and Canada, and now it has arrived in Scotland where you can see it at New Lanark until 29th April. Follow the link for details – I highly recommend it. Three things amazed me – how many of the artists I had never associated with textiles, how different their designs were to their other work, and how many of the garments could be worn today without looking out of place. See what you think!

Henry Moore

Salvador Dalí

Pablo Picasso

Joan Miró

Andy Warhol

A final selection

As with all the images, clicking to enlarge will reveal artist, title and date.

Do you have a favourite? Let me know in the comments. I would love to have that very first dress by Alastair Morton – and the waistline to carry it off!

Perthshire Open Studios, 3-11 September 2011

I had never heard of Perthshire Open Studios until this year when we received an invitation from one of the participants, but it has been going for 4 years. It’s a lovely idea – just as it sounds, local artists open up their studios to visitors – and the website and brochure are really well produced. You can search for specific artists or type of art or you can follow one of six colour-coded routes.

Christine Ironside, an old friend from Glasgow who moved to Mid Tullybannocher near Comrie a few years ago, is number 69 on the Plum Route. The drive over was lovely, once we left the A9. The B827 from Braco to Comrie rises along the side of a beautiful valley and the hills looked amazing – what a place to live. Christine’s instructions were to park at the Tullybannocher Cafe so we thought it was only polite to have lunch there:

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It was well worth a stop with the best display of home-baking I’ve seen for a long time. John succumbed to a slice of Victoria sponge but I stopped after my mezzaluna, a sort of folded flatbread which was absolutely delicious.

It was great to see Christine and her partner, Bas, again and good to see the studio busy with lots of people flitting in and out – a couple of cyclists were on their eighth studio – and many paintings already marked with red dots. The studio is in the former byre of the cottage which is surrounded by a large garden with the River Earn running just below it.

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I always have fantasies about living in a place like this but the city girl in me wins out every time!

Anyway, we stayed so long we didn’t have time to visit anywhere else. Did we buy a painting? Yes, we did – time for a rehang at home!

The last open studios event we went to was in the Briggait in Glasgow where there are many artists working under the same roof, so this was quite different. The combination of art and nature in Perthshire is irresistible and there are still several days to take advantage of it. Perhaps another time we’ll manage to visit more than one artist.