• Elizabeth de Cacqueray, Université de Toulouse – Le Mirail, on “Women within the Frame in Works by British Women War Artists (principally 1939-1945)”

Observation of some British women war artists’ paintings reveal evidence of the apparent delight these artists experienced in occupying and representing what, for them, were largely new spaces. This drew my attention to the use of space and its representation in these paintings. For this paper, a method of close analysis has been used to examine the construction of meaning which may emerge from the treatment of space, the placing of the generally female figures within the frame and the directing of the gaze in these paintings.

Elizabeth de Cacqueray is Senior Lecturer in English Studies at Université de Toulouse – Le Mirail, France. Her research centres on the history of the representation of women in British cinema with a particular interest in the period 1939-1945. She has recently been working on British women war artists in the Second World War. She was a joint organiser of the ″Women, Conflict and Power” conference, at the Université de Toulouse – Le Mirail, in October 2009. Recent publications include: “New Slants on Gender and Power Relations in British Second World War Films”.  Miranda, n°2, June 2010.

  • Kathleen Palmer, Head of Art at the Imperial War Museum, on "Women War Artists"

Women have been commissioned through Official War Art schemes since the First World War. Many female war artists have also worked independently, offering an unofficial perspective on conflict. Their experiences and treatment have until recently differed significantly from that of their male counterparts, with more limited opportunities to experience the realities of the front line, and less favorable access to commissions. In this context, their achievements in creating works of remarkable power, authority and insight deserve to be more widely acknowledged.

The talk 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 investigated, considering their experiences both in the war zone and at home. Key works by artists such as Anna Airy, Flora Lion, Dame Laura Knight, Evelyn Dunbar, Linda Kitson and Janane Al-Ani are seen through the prism of their creators’ own reflections and life stories, revealing the unique opportunities and constraints of their roles. While the primary focus is on British artists, the talk will also look at the international context of the artists' work, particularly in the increasingly globalised contemporary art scene.

Kathleen Palmer is Head of Art at the Imperial War Museum, where she has worked as a curator since 2001. She previously curated “Witness: Women War Artists”, a major exhibition at Imperial War Museum North.