In an extraordinary 80-year career, pioneering artist Laura Knight worked across a range of styles, subjects and disciplines and was particularly known for depicting marginalised communities and reclaiming the female gaze.
Working in a male-dominated art industry, Laura Knight (1877-1970) became the second-ever woman elected as a member of the Royal Academy, paving the way for the women artists who followed in her footsteps. She was a highly regarded War Artist and her powerful portraits of women during the Second World War showcased the contribution women were making to the war effort. Ruby Loftus Screwing a Breech Ring (1943), one of her best-known works, depicts 21-year old Ruby masterfully completing one of the most highly skilled jobs in the factory.
Laura Knight was particularly known for subverting the male perspective and adapting a radical modern approach to depicting women. She was also consistently inspired by painting marginalised individuals, often painting Gypsy communities and circus performers.
In Allez Oop! (1954) Knight demonstrates her passion for the theatrical industries. Her work in this area is a peek behind the curtain of the stage, showing the candid human moments in performance.
The exhibition follows the blossoming of her career on the Cornish coast, through the war years, work in portraiture and with marginalised communities such as the Gypsy dynasties of Malvern. Bringing together over 70 artworks, pieces on display also include her iconic posters for London Transport and LNER, as well as work in china and glass.
Hugely popular in Britain throughout her career, Laura Knight embodied the meaning of a multi-disciplinary artist, championing voices for women and marginalised individuals. Her legacy in figurative and realist styles, as well as British Impressionism continues to inspire working artists today.
This exhibition is supported by the Weston Loan Programme with Art Fund.