In Appreciation of 18th Century Female Artists or Mantua Gown in short!

It was created in 2015 firstly to enter for The Royal Academy Summer Exhibition which was a good incentive to go ahead with such an awkward piece to create and secondly, it needed addressing!

Inspired by the architecture of The Royal Academy in London, Columns were built as a symbol of strength and fortitude, I believed these to be the very essence of those female artists of the 18th century, wonderfully, skillful artists that sadly many not recognised as they were female. Fathers, brothers and husbands would sometimes take the acclaim for their works!

The piece is sculptural and not wearable, it is built over a caged crinoline designed by researching online and by visiting the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Arched garden canes have been constructed onto a trolley and the dress/canvas has been built upon this. A bodice has been made also with the calico material and painted white and boning has been inserted. Boning has also been inserted to create the columns on the gown and the coiled painted pieces that have become like shoulder pads/detail.

I re-created a painting by Angelica Kauffman, it is one of 4 that are on the ceiling in the foyer of the R.A. A long column drapes from the back of the gown to the floor, this has many names of these woman written in gold as closely to 18th century script as possible.

Sadly that year, even though I’d registered for the summer show and had finished the piece ready before the deadline, there weren’t any forms left! Ever determined it was entered this year,  it didn’t get accepted, but that also really added to the inspiration of the piece itself as only maybe 2 of the artists mentioned on the dress had ever been accepted by the establishment of the R.A!!!

This year it was exhibited in Bristol for ‘Addressing the Situation’ at The Grant Bradley Gallery, it was also part of the show in London ‘Salon des Refuses’ at the SPACE Gallery, which is an Annual Exhibition of Artworks Rejected by the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition.

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