I have just been to the preview of Kate Davis’ new exhibition at the Gallery of Modern Art in Glasgow. It was created specially for GoMA by Kate and is her personal response to Glasgow Museums’ collection.
It’s an interesting exhibition with a mix of Kate’s own work alongside work by Goya, Jo Spence and Terry Dennett among others and has a particular emphasis on feminist art and the women’s suffrage movement.
I particularly liked the the pamphlet, given extra gravitas by its storage in a glass case, which has a transcript of a speech by Christabel Pankhurst in 1908 outlining the need for a militant approach to securing the women’s right to vote. The cover of the pamphlet shows a portrait of Christabel which at some time had been defaced and her features almost entirely eradicated and Kate has reproduced the cover of the pamphlet in an enlarged form which heightens the impact of the damage. She has then reclaimed Pankhurst’s face by drawing in the detail which is missing. It really makes you stop to think. There is also a postcard from the early 20th century, called Peace at last!, which has a caricature of a woman’s head with her tongue nailed to a table .. a quite shocking image in 2011. By the time you reach the Pankhurst pamphlet at the far end of the exhibition you began to understand the need for militant action.
The Goya prints are strange and beautiful and it’s fantastic to have an opportunity to see them close up. As Goya didn’t leave much information about these prints, there is little knowledge about their intended titles or the sequences in which they should be viewed, and Kate’s interpretation of them, and their role in representing the past, really brings them to life.
There are also video works, which I will go back to the exhibition to take some time to listen to, and the very emotional and moving photographs of Jo Spence taken by Terry Dennet and an intepretation of some of Jo Spence’s photography by Kate in which she considers how the artist addressed the question of who owned the images, especially images of the body.
A very thought provoking exhibition and one which I hope to return to many times during its run.
Peace at last! runs from 13 July to 16 October in the Gallery of Modern Art in Glasgow
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