International Women's Day on 8th March offers a particular time to reflect on the achievements of women, on the progress towards equality and on the challenges still faced. Ahead of this day I was asked by Exeter Living magazine to select a painting currently in the gallery and to discuss what I think it says about womanhood. I chose Matilda Harrison's Pale Sisters, a small painting whose scale and execution as well as subject play their part in creating a powerful impact and I found myself talking about sisterhood.
"The central subject of conjoined albino twins is unusual in itself but surrounded by giant insects in a garden of succulents, the weirdness is taken to another level. Disbelief however is undermined by the acute draughtsmanship and meticulous detail with which Matilda paints. The fine lace of the collars and every strand of pure white hair encourages belief in the scene whilst her subversion of the normal in terms of scale and expectation contradicts this. What remains is a sense of a bond between the sisters, their solid stance, near perfect symmetry and unwavering gaze tells of a steadfastness. Their union seems to transcend the strangeness about them and their benign demeanour welcomes us to join them in the wider sisterhood of women."