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Imperial War Museum in London Explores Achievements of Female War Artists
Clare Atwood, Christmas Day in the London Bridge YMCA Canteen: HRH Princess Helena Victoria, Chairman of the Ladies' Auxiliary Committee of the YMCA is standing by Mrs Norrie, CBE, Superintendant of the canteen. Miss Ellen Terry is sitting by the table , 1920, oil on canvas.


LONDON.- Women War Artists, a new exhibition at Imperial War Museum London will explore the remarkable experiences and achievements of female war artists from the First World War to the present day. The importance of women artists as eyewitnesses, participants, commentators and officially commissioned recorders of war will be examined, considering their experiences both in theatres of conflict and at home.

Highlights from the Imperial War Museum’s outstanding art collection, including challenging contemporary works by Frauke Eigen, Jananne Al-Ani and Fiona Banner, will be shown alongside a significant video installation by Mona Hatoum, in this thought provoking display. As well as key works by female official war artists, recent Second World War acquisitions depicting factory work and the home front from an unofficial perspective will be exhibited. These include watercolours by artists such as Margaret Abbess and Eleanor Erlund Hudson, and Priscilla Thornycroft’s oil painting Runaway Horse in an Air Raid Alarm 1939, on show for the first time. Taking an analytical approach to the subject of conflict, the exhibition aims to illuminate both the constraints and possibilities encountered by female artists in war time.

Organised into three different themes, War Zone, Working Together, and Costs of War, the exhibition shows the diversity of the artists’ reactions to war and conflict. Personal reflections from some of the artists will provide an insight into how war has shaped their lives and will highlight the variety of ways that conflict can inform artistic practice.

The artists’ experiences range from official commissions to secret observations and provocative interpretations of the world at war, capturing and interpreting key moments in history through art.

Women War Artists exhibition highlights:

• Mona Hatoum, Turner Prize nominee and internationally renowned contemporary artist, Measures of Distance (1988)

• A Shell Forge (1918) by Anna Airy, one of the first women officially commissioned during the First World War

• Dame Laura Knight RA, the first woman for 150 years to be elected to the Royal Academy (since the original founding members in 1768). Works include The Nuremberg Trial 1946 and Ruby Loftus Screwing a Breech-ring (1943).

• Linda Kitson, commissioned by Imperial War Museum in the 1982 Falklands conflict, making her the first female artist officially commissioned to accompany troops in battle

• Frauke Eigen, a photographic artist responding to the exhumation of mass graves in Kosovo in 2000

•Jananne Al-Ani, from her perspective as the daughter of an Iraqi father and Irish mother, focuses on the Gulf War in Untitled May 1991

• Doris Zinkeisen’s powerful work Human Laundry, Belsen, April 1945
Women War Artists offers a unique opportunity to revisit key moments in the last century of Britain’s history of war and conflict, through this largely unexplored perspective.

The Imperial War Museum holds one of the greatest collections of twentieth century British art in the world and is still actively commissioning artists to respond to conflicts today. This exhibition aims to show key historic and contemporary works from the Museum's internationally renowned collection, alongside contemporary loaned material, in order to explore not only the evolving approaches of female artists to conflict, but also the way in which our perception of conflict itself has changed.





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