Let’s hear it for the girls 2: Leonora Carrington

Leonora Carrington is a fascinating creature in so many ways – when reading her story, she is a woman out of time.  Not willing to conform, Leonora’s early life was beset with problems but through it all, her art was the one constant that drove her to break free from the shackles that society was determined to place on her.

Tate Liverpool have curated a tranquil exhibition spread over two rooms.  Many of her famous pieces are there, including The Giantess and Pomps of the Subsoil.

There were two in particular that were striking and of which I scribbled away in my notebook:

Evening Conference and The House Opposite.

Evening Conference

I loved this straight away as it just brought Alice in Wonderland to mind.  Whether it was the colour palette (white and red) or the shapes of the figures – neither human or animal, but I kept thinking of these lines: “I wonder if I’ve been changed in the night. Let me think. Was I the same when I got up this morning? I almost think I can remember feeling a little different. But if I’m not the same, the next question is ‘Who in the world am I?’ Ah, that’s the great puzzle!”

The central, black figure, with its piercing eyes draws you in to this scene. He (for some reason, I can’t help setting the gender to male) dominates the seance and you cannot help but feel chilled by his presence in this room that is not a room.

The House Opposite
The House Opposite

This wonderful multichambered work tells a story which I imagine will be different every time.  It appears to tell the story of a dream within a dream and the different chambers link together in a variety of ways. This definitely has multiple narratives attached to it and although we have figures falling, witch-like women concocting their unholy brew which are interesting in their own right, I was struck by the green panel in the centre:

The House Opposite - central panel

This is filled with unbelievable sadness. The girl appears desolate, with her head bowed.  A closer look reveals that she is sitting within a circle – is she trapped here?  The white rocking horse, reminiscent of the one in Leonora’s self portrait, The Dawn of the New Inn, could symbolise the opportunity of freedom that can never occur.  The fact that this scene sits below the waking girl seems to indicate that this is the nightmare of the waking girl and the figure that crosses the two worlds has the ability to free or to trap her.  Absolutely loved this and would definitely have it on my wall!

The links below are a good place to start with learning more about this fascinating woman.








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