Please watch this short video for all you need to know about our forthcoming events.
Please watch this short video for all you need to know about our forthcoming events.
Studio shot by Philip King 2016
We’re nearing the finish line on the Artist’s Eye project. We’re delighted to announce that our free exhibition booklet will be available at all our events.
Programme: Welcome – Spanish wine & tentempié / Host – MML Archivist, Meirian Jump/ Origins of the project – Sonia Boué/ Talk – Prof Tom Buchanan (of Oxford University)/ Premier of our project film/ Short poetry reading – Jenny Rivarola
Programme: Welcome – Spanish wine / Host – Historian, Liz Woolley – who will be in conversation with Prof Tom Buchanan (of Oxford University)/ Project film/ Short poetry reading – Jenny Rivarola/ Conclusion and thanks – Curator, Sarah Mossop
The opportunity to see all works in situ – including 17 previously unseen drawings by Felicia Browne – and to meet artist and poet, Sonia Boué & Jenny Rivarola.
FREE ART & POETRY Workshops can be booked here.
All events are free but booking is especially recommended for the launch and for workshops as places are limited.
Our gratitude to Instituto Cervantes for hospitality.
Felicia Browne 1904- 1936, Sketch of a nude figure seen from behind [c.1928]
TGA 201023/1/12 (Tate Britain archive) This work will not be shown at the exhibition.
Through An artist’s Eye – a creative homage to British artist – Felicia Browne, is drawing to a heady conclusion at the end of the month and in the early days of October!
As the preparations continue, we have some exciting news about the supporting material for our exhibition in Esher, which incidentally is barely 5 minutes down the road from Hampton Court. Do check the link for all our events.
Felicia Browne’s drawings and letters, some of which are held in an archive at Tate Britain, were bequeathed to and carefully kept by her friend and fellow artist Elizabeth Watson. Subsequently they were inherited by Elizabeth’s three children, Felicia, Lin and Jim, the latter of whom – along with his wife Deborah – have been working with us to present these previously unseen examples of Felicia’s drawings.
We’re thrilled to announce that there will be 17 reproductions of unseen works on show, to support our narrative framework of the 7 key stages in Felicia’s life, leading up to her untimely death in Spain.
We’re not able to share examples of the unseen works online – so come along and view! Don’t miss out!
“A sketchbook, retrieved from her possessions, was filled with drawings of her fellow fighters: these stoic men and women have been captured in Browne’s lyrical, romantic modernist style.” Fisun Guner.
Read more about Felicia Browne in this great article Felicia Browne: the only known British woman to die in the Spanish civil war by Fisun Guner.
It’s been quite a start to the week for the Artist’s Eye project. An opportunity to appear live on Woman’s Hour on a short segment about Felicia Browne, and a lovely gallery on the Woman’s Hour website, which showcases both Felicia’s work and Sonia Boué’s responses.
You can see the gallery HERE.
The podcast for download is HERE. (our segment begins at 33.40 mins)
You can listen Here. (our segment begins on the podcast for the 18th July at 33.40 mins)
Sonia was joined on Woman’s Hour by Pauline Fraser trustee of the International Memorial Brigade Trust.
We are very excited to be trying out ideas in a small scale process exhibition at the Magdalen Rd Studios. This is part of our promise to the Arts Council. The aim is to receive feedback on our progress both from our peers and the public, and to develop our audiences.
In the two days it has taken to install the work we’ve already had some wonderful conversations with studio artists. It has also been a delight to work with our curator Sarah Mossop, whose input has inspired us to dig deeper on the detail of the presentation of the work.
There is a new piece on show, which relates to the border of memory. In the final show we work with the border as a geographical reality. In this piece (the assemblage piece shown below) I work with childhood association and attempt to intermingle Felicia’s infancy wth my own.
This will be a brief visual blog. Our creative work has begun, and I’ve been busy in the studio on a series of six painted sketches, which have taken me by surprise. I’ve been wholly mesmerised by Felicia Browne’s visual journaling (as I call it) and thought to respond to her sketches by abstracting her line rather than working figuratively – as I am an abstract artist myself. However, Felicia has had a profound influence on me, and in my conversation with her work, mine has become altered. Our styles have combined to create a series of images, which plot her political trajectory, which we know is what led her to Spain, during that fateful July of 1936.
I don’t know yet if this development will continue in the seven larger works which will form my contribution to the our final exhibition. These six smaller paintings are process works to be shown for peer evaluation at my studios.
Each image borrows from Felicia’s sketchbooks, and from her letters – but there is also a personal take. My collaborator, Jenny Rivarola and myself, both had fathers in the Republican army, Jenny’s father was a “soldado de chupete” (the so called soldiers with a dummies – due to their young age) and my father was a journalist with a tank regiment.
I will be adding a seventh painting to “describe” the border between France and Spain – the snaking pressure point for the Retirada of 1939, but also the entry point for Felicia and her travelling companion Edith Bone, in 1936.
My thanks to Stuart Walsh for this photograph taken from. an issue of Left Review from 1936. It’s a rich source of information and brings the details of the posthumous exhibition to light, together with the fundraising element for medical aid to Spain.
In conversation with Professor Tom Buchanan. I’ve learned that the date of Felicia’s death in Spain is more likely to have been 22nd of August 1936, but that confusion surrounded this due to later reporting of it. We have to remember the chaos of this moment to grasp how the exact date and even the precise location of her death have been hard to determine.
Needless to say these two sketches are superb and add to our sense of the lives of ordinary people, which she witnessed at the outbreak of civil war in Spain.
The article says that these are pencil sketches, but the medium may be graphite stick or charcoal. Felicia’s use of the flat of her instrument (along with the point) is extensive and may indicate the use of a stick above that of a pencil.
Photograph held at the Tate Archive, Purchased by Tate Archive from Jim Sproule, Lin Sproule and Felicia France, November 2010.
Reference TGA 201023/3/2
Twenty Drawings by Felicia Browne Killed in Defence of the Spanish Republic, is the title of the booklet, which was sold in aid of the Artist’s International Association, at the posthumous exhibition of her works in London in October 1936. It was published by Lawrence and Wishart, who continue today as an independent radical publishing house.
A copy of the booklet is available to view online and I recommended it highly. It’s a beautifully curated selection of works and gives a fuller sense of Felicia’s visual reportage from Spain when viewed alongside those held in the Tate archive – although there is some crossover.
We’re treated to several exquisite examples of her animal drawings too. I am constantly delighted by Felicia’s hand. She appears to pluck forms from thin air to conjure them in a few quick and easy lines and smudges. This is incredibly difficult to achieve while appearing simple, and thus it is a finely honed gift.
There is also a two page appreciation, written anonymously, which is illuminating on Felicia as both person and artist, and appears to have been written by someone who knew her well – though not accurate in every detail (for example dates for her sessions at the Slade School of Art aren’t given in full). The portrait is of a complex and highly principled yet conflicted woman, whose true promise as an artist was tragically cut short. Although she was principally a sculptress none survives and we’re treated instead to one of the richest sketchbook practices I’ve seen.
The photograph at the top of the page shows medical vehicle in Spain, funded by AIA – this being the thematic link back to Felicia and the booklet, and I imagine it is the reason for it’s inclusion in the Tate archive. The description of the photograph includes the following suggestion.
“Presumably this is the ambulance bought with money raised from the auction of paintings by various British artists in Dec 1936.”
There are many stand out sentences in the appreciation, but none stay in the mind quite so much as this one:
“She died fighting her real enemy, but to some extent the enemy was inside her.”
Emotional complexity can be a burden, but it also bestows a richness of vision. The tumultuous energy of Felicia Browne brought forth to us in all her drawings provide us with a compelling sense of her presence.
Dr Almudena Cros, holds a B.A (Hons) in History of Art, a Master of Arts in Venetian Art History, and a PhD in Late Medieval Art History.
An Artist’s Eye is currently in an intensive research and development phase in which we are also applying for Arts Council Funding (a research project in itself!), and so we’ve been a bit quiet on the blog.
Today we received a timely email from one of our great colleagues and supporters in Spain, Dr Almudena Cros of the Across Madrid Tours. Almu is also president of the Asociación de Amigos de las Brigadas Internationals . We will be linking our blogs in a gesture of mutual appreciation and from our side as a thank you for invaluable assistance with our research.
Tragically, Felicia Browne was killed in Aragon in August of 1936 and didn’t live to witness the lengthy siege of Madrid commencing in October of that year. In linking with Across Madrid Tours (in view also of Almu’s role with the amigos and her extraordinary civil war tour) we consider anew what Felicia volunteered, and gave her life for. Her incredible commitment to anti-fascism sits with us as we go about the business of preparing for our works phase.
More news on our research soon.