A retrospective exhibition of the late figurative artist Jacqueline Morreau will be held at the Nunnery Gallery at Bow Arts in London this September. The exhibition showcases a combination of Morreau’s paintings and previously unexhibited drawings selected directly from the artist’s studio, alongside archive material from the British Library and the Women’s Audio Archive. The show also features a series of events including talks, workshops, and performances, by artists whose work further interrogates canonical depictions of history, labour, and gendered identity, that Morreau was concerned with throughout her practice.
Morreau’s works are dark and intricate, drawing from mythology in order to expose both the ancient and the contemporary myths that haunt the female body. Morreau’s figures are beautiful but often conflicted, shown working in impossible ways in order to bear the weight of the numerous roles imposed upon women; the Fates are seen worn, straining to continue their relentless labour; the woman-mother-artist is shown being torn in two, reproducing through binary fission in order to cope as her ‘Divided Self’. This sense of hybridity runs throughout the work, as Morreau continues to demonstrate the flux between male and female, angel and demon, agony and ecstasy. In other works, her ability to depict the nuances of these complex states need not be so delicate; the Children’s Crusade triptych is a blatant and damning display of the horrors of war. Despite her traditional techniques (charcoal drawing and oil painting), Morreau’s work is radical in its critique of the practices of history and in its engagement with notions of contemporary feminism and post-gendered thought.
The themes addressed in Morreau's own work are still ever-pressing today for artists and practitioners marginalised by their gender, race or sexuality. How much has changed since the Feminist Art Movement of the 1970s; and how much really hasn't? And what issues were never addressed by the movement in the first place? The series of talks, workshops, and performances taking place throughout the exhibition aim to establish a relationship between Morreau's practice and the those of contemporary artists, academics, and activists, who are invited to react to and discuss the work in the exhibition in relation to their own practice. These events will be held to not only highlight the impact of Morreau’s work, but also create opportunities for other artists to directly engage with the issues highlighted in the work.
Morreau contributed to numerous women’s initiatives throughout her career. Upon moving to London from the U.S. in 1972, Morreau was quick to become an active member of the Woman’s Art Alliance. Along with Catherine Elwes, Joyce Agee, and Pat Whiteread, she organised the Women’s Images of Men and About Time shows, which first exhibited at the ICA in 1980 and proceeded to tour across the UK. Morreau was also an educator, teaching at various art schools across London and the UK, including the Royal College of Art. Her work is in various private and public collections, including the Victoria and Albert Museum and the British Museum.
Supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England
Thursday 7 September
- First Thursdays Late Opening - Panel Discussion: Histories Hesteroies
Saturday 9 September 2-6pm
- Artist Response: New practices in Feminism & the body (performances)
Sunday 10 September, 2-4pm
- Artist Response: New practices in Feminism & the body (Film Screening)
Thursday 14 September, 6-8pm
- Life Drawing workshop with Andrea Morreau
Saturday 16 September, 12-4pm
- Zine Fair: Feminist, POC & Trans zine collectives
- Tea & Chat with the Feminist Library: Zine culture and self-publishing as a way of ciculating marginalised narratives
Thursday 21 September, 6-8pm
- Life drawing workshop with Andrea Morreau