Bringing together the works of Emily Mannion, Emily Moore, Emily Platzer and Becky Tucker, The Queens of Aquitaine presents new work produced at the culmination of these four artists’ stay at the GIRLPOWER Residency in the Aquitaine region of southwestern France.
The residency is organised and run by the GIRLPOWER Collection, a partnership founded in 2012 by UK-based independent curator and collector Marcelle Joseph and Zurich-based lawyer and businesswoman Kimberly Morris, to support female-identifying and non-binary contemporary artists through the acquisition of their work at the early stages of their careers. The Residency’s mission is to provide these early-career artists with an opportunity to slow down and centre their focus on their practice, without the stress of deadlines and life in a big city. It invites artists to immerse themselves in the history and culture of the area that dates back to the Knights of Templar, and that was of course home to the legendary medieval Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine (1122 –1204), who was both Queen of France and England during her lifetime.
This exhibition highlights the varied approach to female identity and experience that each of these artists adopt, particularly when offered respite from their native urban environments (London for Mannion and Moore, Paris for Platzer and Glasgow for Tucker). Tucker intensified her research into neo-medievalism while in rural France to produce her Gothic and monstrously inspired ceramics that re-imagine histories and potential futures while mining the art of the Middle Ages. Emily Moore was equally influenced by her surroundings, in particular, a nearby iris farm and local market vendors selling haberdashery items and vintage linens. Expanding further her own coined term of ‘wildness’ in painting, Moore painted, drew and sewed on a myriad of different surfaces from wooden cutting boards to antique burlap bags and linen and lace serviettes. Platzer collected soil samples from the side of the road in her travels in the Aquitaine to make new paint pigments, creating a new body of work inspired by her recent research into Tarot cards and their relationship to Carl Jung’s theory of archetypes. Over her month in France, Mannion continued her psychological investigation of interior spaces and the objects contained with them, painting objects she came into contact with - from a spear of asparagus that was abundantly in season in May to the on-site swimming pool’s vacuum cleaning robot.
The Queens of Aquitaine sees Marcelle Joseph bring together the complexities of these four artist’s practices in a celebration of their differences, highlighting the nuances in their practices formed during their month of reflection and development while abroad. The GIRLPOWER Residency amplifies creativity let loose, and this exhibition highlights the promise of these women artists following their month of growth in a region filled with alluring nature and medieval history.