• Reclaiming the Feminine | Women in Wood

Reclaiming the Feminine | Women in Wood

(Cover image: Tied to the Kitchen Sink, © Sibylle Laubscher, 2022
Acrylic on Paper, 64 x 50 cm)

Excerpt from my welcome speech at my Open ATELIER  Party, 21st October, 2022

 ...I believe that women have the same right to be artists as men. I believe that men and women and everyone in between are part of the same whole. That's why I made the series "Reclaiming the Feminine" and paintings like "Frau am Herd" (Woman at the Stove) currently on display at Chez Rodolfo. The woman is part of the whole and not to blame for being excluded from the Garden of Eden. Rather, we are all connected and have only this one wonderful world. The rational and the irrational are equal...”

Reclaiming the Feminine

My work is always a response to the world around me. It follows an inner necessity, a drive that comes from deep within. I cannot be taken out of my time, my situation, my experiences and these naturally influence me. Without studying my surroundings, sketching, drawing inspired by observation, reading, I could not create work.

I create work in three main areas: nature inspired representational work (in response to environmental issues); abstract work (a deep inner response) and feminist work (I am a female artist and acutely aware of the hurdles).

Reclaiming the Feminine is my attempt to bring Women back to Women. In this body of work, I have explored women who were portrayed by men, some misused by men, all need to reclaim their feminine identity, be reimagined as powerful people in their own right and reinvented by women for humankind.

I see humankind not as different sorts of people, more as different sides of the same coin. We all need love to live, we all need relationships and no person is an island. Therefore, why do we need to distinguish our differences, highlight our sexual desires and make a point of dressing according to the group we identify ourselves as a member of? We only have one world, we are one people. Why can we not simply embrace our differences, they make the world so much more interesting, joyful and creative, instead of alienating or disconnecting from those we feel are not like us? Be proud of who we are without fear of discrimination.

Reclaiming the Feminine is important as women have spent centuries being repressed, ignored and told we were “irrational, therefore not good for real life”. Women are often not noticed in art and rarely appear in art books. Why? Art history was predominantly written by men. In the last 10 years, public galleries and museums in Germany have acquired ONLY 10% of art by women (in Switzerland it is no different, as a recent feature on SRF Kultur revealed)! Female artists in Germany still earn 24% LESS than male artists with the same qualifications. A few figures from the Arte TV report on why it is important to me that I, as a woman, also have a fair chance as an artist - to be noticed and seen.

The Swiss Society of Female Artists (SGBK) was founded 120 years ago because women were not allowed to join the Swiss art association of the time. Luckily things have changed, but it remains important not only to appreciate women as equal members of society (whatever their age), but also to integrate them fully into the dialogue of art to reflect their experience and their story. I dedicate 100% to my profession as an artist and it determines my life.

In Reclaiming the Feminine I did not want to create copies of the images of the women made by men, I wanted to reinterpret, reinvent, reload the ideas of these women made by men – presenting them in a new way, by a woman.

Sketch Susanna and the Elders

 

Susanna and the Elders

Susanna, sculpture by Frank Dobson (1888 – 1963), ca. 1925, Bronze

Susanna was watched bathing by two elders who as a result wanted to have sex with her. She replied she was married and under no circumstances would this be possible. The men, angered by her refusal, accused her of meeting her lover under a tree, saying she was an unfaithful wife. David, as judge, asked each man separately, under which tree was she meeting her lover? Each elder replied with a different tree. Therefore Susanna was pardoned as it was obviously a made up story.

Reductive wood block print using a pine wood block, hand printed without a press. The elders added using transfer print process. © Sibylle Laubscher, 2022

Giovanna Baccelli

Exhibited 1782, by Thomas Gainsborough (1727 – 1788)

Giovanna (1753 – 1801) was born in Venice and the principal ballerina at the Kings Theatre, Haymarket with an acclaimed career. She was the mistress of John Sackville, 3rd Duke of Dorset with whom she had a son. After they split her son remained with his father, but died in 1796.

Reductive wood block print, hand printed without a press. © Sibylle Laubscher, 2022


  

Margaret, Countess of Blessington (1822) painted by Sir Thomas Lawrence (1769 – 1830)

Margaret (1789 – 1849) was an Irish novelist, journalist and literary hostess who knew and wrote a book about Lord Byron, and also enjoyed the company of Hans Christian Andersen and Charles Dickens. She was distinguished for her generosity and extravagant tastes and spent many years living in Europe, settling for the main in Naples. On returning to England she lived in Kensington, where the Royal Albert Hall stands today. Her home became a centre of attraction for all that was distinguished in literature, learning, art, science and fashion – giving her rich pickings for her job as gossip columnist for Dickens’ Daily News. However, after her partner, Count D’Orsay sold the house to escape creditors, so Margaret joined him in Paris where she died. It was discovered that her heart was three times the normal size.

Reductive wood block print, hand printed without a press. © Sibylle Laubscher, 2022


Margaret, Duchess of Argyll (ca. 1931) painted by Gerald Brockhurst (1890 – 1978)

Margaret (1912 – 1993) was the only child of an American self-made millionaire. She was pregnant at 15 and had a secret abortion in London. Margaret was presented at court and was known as the debutante of the year. When she married Charles Francis Sweeny in 1933 Norman Hartnell made her wedding dress and traffic in Knightsbridge was blocked for three hours – Margaret was always to be associated with glamour and elegance. She had three children with Sweeny. In 1943 Margaret survived a near fatal fall down a lift shaft. After her divorce she married Ian Douglas Campbell, 11th Duke of Argyll, whose castle she restored with her money. The Duke was addicted to alcohol, gambling and prescription drugs, was violently and emotionally abusive. He accused Margaret of infidelity and used a set of photographs as proof. The Duchess counter-petitioned the divorce. Margaret was condemned by the judge for having “disgusting sexual activities”... "Her attitude to the sanctity of marriage was what moderns would call 'enlightened' but which in plain language was wholly immoral." Many of the men the Duchess was alleged to have slept with were homosexual; she was unwilling to divulge this as sexual acts between men were illegal in the United Kingdom at the time. Her extravagant lifestyle and ill-considered investments left her largely penniless by the time she died.

Reductive wood block print, hand printed without a press. I used a sample of her signature to write “Margaret” © Sibylle Laubscher, 2022