Creative Culture Column: Laura Knight exhibition at MK Gallery

Creative Culture columnist Elizabeth Woodward looks at ‘Laura Knight: A Panoramic View’, the first in a series of solo exhibitions by female artists…

Gwen Ffrangcon-Davies Dressing For Juliet., 1924

Laura Knight: A Panoramic View marks the beginning of an exciting year of solo exhibitions by female artists at MK Gallery.

Open now until 20th February 2022, it will be followed by an exhibition showcasing the work of British media artist Ingrid Pollard and a retrospective of American street photographer Vivian Maier.

During her lifetime, the prolific artist Laura Knight enjoyed enormous popularity, but after her death in 1970 the realist style of painting fell largely out of fashion.

A Panoramic View celebrates the rediscovery of Knight’s work, allowing viewers to find a contemporary resonance in her depictions of women at work, people from marginalised communities and her important contributions as a war artist.

The largest exhibition of her work since 1965, MK Gallery has worked closely with Knight’s great nephew to bring together over 100 works, including rarely seen paintings and graphic works as well as designs for ceramics, jewellery and costumes.

A respected and influential figure in the British art world, her solo retrospective exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts in 1965 was the first for a woman.

Her success in the male-dominated British art establishment paved the way for greater status and recognition for women artists.

Knight had long fought to break conventions, being one of the first radical British female artists to paint nudes outdoors, as it was still deemed highly improper for women to attend life drawing classes.

She often had to push for acceptable pay and enjoyed defying expectations when working in traditionally male environments.

Although stylistically traditional, Knight’s subject matters were what made her “a truly modern artist” as described by Gallery Director Anthony Spira.

She focused on recording daily life, painting ordinary people and marginalised communities such as the
travelling community and racially segregated patients at hospitals in Baltimore.

Her lifelong interest in ballet dancers and circus performers is a prevalent theme, often capturing them
in the quiet moments before they go on stage.

Knight also received many commissions during World War Two and famously captured women’s contribution to the war effort, as well as documenting the post-War Nuremberg Trials.

I would highly recommend a visit to this insightful look into the life and works of one of the most popular English artists of the 20th Century.

For more information and to book tickets, please visit www.mkgallery.org/whats-on/laura-knight-panoramic-view

This feature was published in the December 21/January 22 issue of Celebrate:MK lifestyle magazine. Read the full magazine above or by clicking on this link.

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