A nonagenarian virago: quoting Carrington in contemporary practice

McAra, Catriona ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-7680-4134 (2017) A nonagenarian virago: quoting Carrington in contemporary practice. In: Leonora Carrington and the International Avant-Garde. Manchester University Press. ISBN 9781784994365


This chapter explores long-term research on Leonora Carrington and contemporary art. A magpie for such “debris” herself, Carrington reaches us imbued with meaning, and it is striking how younger generations of artists have responded to her legacies. The chapter presents the findings of a related research exhibition curated by McAra at Leeds Arts University, Leonora Carrington/Lucy Skaer (15 July-2 September 2016). Here experimental media and performance objects were juxtaposed with Carrington’s primary material of paintings and etchings. In the hands of this subsequent artistic generation, “Carrington” was summoned through the metaphor of a curated, collective séance. For example, her novel The Hearing Trumpet (1976) became the starting point for a dialogic performance by Lynn Lu and Samantha Sweeting (2011) in which secret stories are gathered and whispered. Their version of the “antique” hearing trumpet was displayed as a conceptual heirloom. In 2006 Lucy Skaer embarked on a trip to Mexico City where she encountered the elderly Carrington. Their coexistence caused Skaer to make a body of work in and through “Carrington,” including a 16mm film homage Leonora: The Joker (2006). After Carrington passed away, Skaer returned to Mexico and took a series of photographs of Carrington’s front door, Harlequin is as Harlequin Does (2012). The exhibition was reviewed by Corridor 8, Art Monthly, and State of the Arts. McAra’s research on the quotation of “Carrington” as a medium occurred at a timely moment around the centenary of Carrington’s birth. McAra was invited to Mexico City to present on this research, and subsequently as keynote speaker at Edge Hill University. The essay collection McAra co-edited with Jonathan Eburne has been reviewed by Times Literary Supplement, London Review of Books, The Burlington Magazine and Woman’s Art Journal. It is used on courses including senior honours “Wanton Women Dada/Surrealism” at Royal Holloway University.

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