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Inspiration from Virginia Woolf

Me hiding from reading. Sculpture by Barbara Hepworth is from the exhibition "Virginia Woolf: an Exhibition Inspired by Her Writings"

The first time I came to know Virginia Woolf was “the Hours”. Or, to be honest with you, when I was in my second grade (I guess, I was 8 years old), I got Virginia Woolf’s biography as I was doing well in class. I am still not sure whether Virginia Woolf is the best author to introduce English literature to children. Anyways, after fifteen years multiple storyline in the movie caught my attention. I went to the local bookstore, found ‘Mrs. Dalloway’ but I couldn’t do more than “Mrs. Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself.” Shame to admit, I left the book on the shelf. Though I added it on my ‘to read’ list - someday. Once I noticed flags advertising ‘Virginia Woolf: an exhibition inspired by her writings’ at the Fitzwilliam museum, I understood I would have to revise my reading list again.

It was a surprise to me that the museum can be so crowded at midday on Tuesday. After I came to the first room, a group of people rushed in with the guide in front of them. The interesting fact I managed to hear (I didn’t want to appear impolite) that in the permanent collection at the Fitzwilliam museum you can find only five (or six) artworks created by woman. This makes this exhibition very special as more than 80 different female artists are there to share their perspectives on landscape, domesticity and identity. The exhibition shows works from 1850 to the present, including names of Vanessa Bell, Virginia’s sister, Barbara Hepworth, Gwen John, Dorothea Tanning, Dora Carrington, Louise Bourgeois, Carol Bove, Tamara Henderson, Penny Slinger, France-Lise McGurn and others. Portraits, landscapes, sculptures, photo collages, videos, installations, etc. are organised around the Wool’s literature in a very broad sense. There are so many works that sometimes they look not only in conversation with one another, but also in strong dispute for the audience attention. Even the walls in the exhibition are decorated... I feel to get better understanding of the main idea who have to visit the exhibition several times.

Another reason why this exhibition is important is that it provides an opportunity to see the original manuscript of ‘A Room of One’s Own’ on display. The extended essay was created after a series of lectures delivered in Cambridge by Virginia Woolf.

What does it mean to be a woman in art? What does it mean to be a woman in literature? A hundred years ago? I can only guess how many of these works where indeed motivated by Woolf’s writings, but her personality, ideas and themes are very inspiring and relevant these days.

'virginia woolf: an exhibition inspired by her writings'

The Fitzwilliam Museum

Trumpington Street, Cambridge, CB2 1RB

2 Oct 2018 - 9 Dec 2018

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© chierkute