Since I was a little girl I've been making dens....and don't think I'll ever stop..........

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Leonora Carrington - "not so much painted as brewed"

I visited an amazing exhibition at the Pallant House Gallery in Chichester last Saturday, which is running until the 12th of September. I definitely recommend a visit if you're in the area. It's entitled Surreal Friends in Mexico and shows the work of close friends, Leonora Carrington, Ramedios Vara and Kati Homa. Three women Surrealist artists who met in Mexico City in 1943, after fleeing the war in Europe. Carrington having eloped to Paris, the heart of the Surrealist art world at the time, with artist Max Ernst. It was here that she met and befriended artists Salvador Dali, Andre Breton, Marcel Duchamp, Joan Miro and Pablo Picasso.

I'd vaguely come across Leonora Carrington's work when flicking through Phaidon's, The 20th Century Artbook. You know the little pocket book that lists about five hundred artists in alphabetical order and shows an image of their work and a mini biography? Carrington's work was a was a self-portrait, The Inn of the Dawn Horse. I remember the image but I can't say that it made very much of an impression on me. If you'd mentioned the name Carrington, the work of Dora Carrington would have sprung to mind. Leonora often being described as a muse rather than a serious artist. That is until last Saturday. When I was introduced to much more of her work.

Carrington who is still living in Mexico appears to be an articulate and vibrant women and apparently the most famous living artist in Mexico. You can watch a recent Guardian interview and here and link to an Independent interview that makes biblical and Renaissance references to her work which is said to have Celtic and mythical inspiration.

I think one of the things that attracted me most to the group of artists was the description in the text put up in the exhibition. It paints a wonderful illustration of the three women who it says "would spend hours in their kitchens discussing the links between cookery and the alchemy, between magic and art and between mythology and reality. Buddhism and
Kabbalah, witch's nluals and sacred ceremonies, Greek myths, Gothic literature and science fiction; the more esoteric, the more likely it was to capture their imaginations. Edward James said that Carrington's work was not so much painted as brewed."


  1. Family mythology says she is my great great Aunt. My grandfather told me just before he died but I do not know how accurate this is as he referred to her as "Dora"

  2. Oh how cool Lorna. It would be amazing if she is. She sounds like such an interesting woman. You should try and find out if you are connected whilst she's still alive, it would be amazing to talk to her about your own art work...

  3. My mother's family were ones for reticence and even she did not know that my grandfather was divorced in the early 1900 before he married my grandmother. My mother is also dead now so have no way of tracking backwards.

  4. This is all so intriguing. My family are supposed to be related to the artist Sir Luke Fyldes on my father's side. I have no idea if it's true but would love to research my genealogy one day when I have the time...