March to May 2018
Currated by Lubaina Himid and Rebecca Chesney 

Lubaina Himid and fellow artist Rebecca Chesney curated an exhibition on the first to second floor stairway of the Harris of work created by women from the Harris collection, including Laura Knight, Maud Sulter, Hilda Carline and Patti Mayor.

About the artists

Dame Laura Knight was an English artist who worked in oils, watercolours, etching, engraving and drypoint. Knight was a painter in the figurative, realist tradition and who embraced English Impressionism. In her long career, Knight was among the most successful and popular painters in Britain. Her success in the male-dominated British art establishment paved the way for greater status and recognition for women artists.

Maud Sulter was a contemporary fine artist, photographer, writer and curator of Ghanaian and Scottish heritage who lived and worked in Britain. As well as writing about art history and curating many exhibitions, Sulter was also a poet and playwright, whose works include the collections As a Blackwoman (1985; her poem of the same title won the Vera Bell Prize from ACER, the Afro-Caribbean Education Resource, the previous year); Zabat (1989); and Sekhmet (2005). She wrote a play inspired by the background of former Ghana head of state Jerry Rawlings, entitled Service to Empire.

She worked closely with Lubaina Himid, including on the book Passion: Discourses on Blackwomen’s Creativity, published by Urban Fox Press in 1990

Hilda Anne Carline was a British painter, she studied art under the PostImpressionist Percyval Tudor-Hart, and then at the Slade School of Art under Henry Tonks. She had a promising early start with her works being shown at the London Group, Royal Academy and New English Art Club.

When she began she made daring, unique paintings. She was one of the early British modernist painters and made important works and interacted with other artists in the movement. She never developed a theme or signature style, largely because of the long periods of not painting when she was married. She became an artist during the Edwardian era, when there were strict responsibilities and limitations for single and married woman. The pathos of her lot seems borne out by the self-portrait that she made not long before she married. She seems trapped, shaded under her hat, and yet slightly defiant.

Patti Mayor was born in 1872 in Preston. She studied at Slade School of Fine Art in London. This was one of the most important art schools in Britain at the time.

Patti returned to Preston after her studies and is believed to have lived a very cultured lifestyle. During this time she formed a close relationship with a man called Joseph Garstang. He became infamous during World War I for his political views and for being a conscientious objector, which meant he refused participate and fight in the war. Look out for a post about him another day!

Patti and Joseph both took a strong interest in politics, and Patti was especially drawn to suffragism. Women were not able to vote during this period, and Patti, among many others, wanted this to change.

Following art school, Patti worked as an artist and painted numerous portraits of local women. These paintings were unusual for the time as they focused on young women at work and in their normal lives. Women until then had often only  been painted in a distant way, and commonly belonged to the upper classes. The lives of working girls was often left unnoticed.

In 1906 Patti painted her famous painting, The Half-Timer. It depicted a twelve year old girl called Annie Hill, who had just started working in the Horrockses Stanley Street Yard Works in Preston. The title refers to the fact that children split their time between working part-time in the mill and receiving an education. Annie would go to work for half the day and then to school for a few hours. Her work in the mill would have been extremely hard and in later life left her partly deaf.

Patti died in 1962. She left many unnamed portraits behind. A lot of her works can be found in public art collections. If you want to explore her work further, then head to the Harris Museum & Art Gallery in Preston, the Grundy Art Gallery in Blackpool or the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool.

Lubaina Himid Turner Prize winner 2017. Read more about Lubaina here

Also see Imbalance Redressed Talk about the under representation of women in art collections from prominent speakers.

All events took place at The Harris Museum and Art Gallery

Maud Sulter photographic print  ©
Reflection of Patti Mayor portrait © Jackie Jones