Pre-Raphaelite Sisters: Making Art Conference

Proud to announce I will be representing Jane Morris at the Pre-Raphaelite Sisters: Making Art Conference. To be held at the University of York on 12-13 December 2019, in conjunction with the exhibition Pre-Raphaelite Sisters at the National Portrait Gallery (from 17 October till 26 January 2020, London).

The exhibition explores the overlooked contribution of twelve women important to the iconic artistic movement Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. Featuring new discoveries and unseen works from public and private collections across the world, this show reveals the women behind the pictures and their creative roles in Pre-Raphaelite’s successive phases between 1850 and 1900.

‘The pilgrims of Siena’ by Paolo Lombardi, albumen cabinet card, 1881
From the museum archives © National Portrait Gallery, London, NPG x6955

According to the two-day Conference this contribution demands recognition. It will explore the roles played and diverse contributions made by women to the creation of Pre-Raphaelite art.

Glenda Youde: ‘We are delighted to inform you that we would like you to present a short piece on (or as) Jane Morris as an introduction to our open discussion session on the afternoon of Friday 13th December. The session will be aimed at The Future for the Pre-Raphaelite Sisters, and your innovative approach is just what we are looking for.’

With a short video I will be answering the question: ‘We are particularly interested in how you as an artist have interpreted the way in which you resemble Jane Morris as art.’

Keynote speakers are Dr Jan Marsh (Art Historian and Curator, National Portrait Gallery, London and Kirsty Stonell Walker (Author, Pre-Raphaelite Girl Gang). Opening remarks by Professor Elizabeth Prettejohn.

Jane Morris (née Burden) by John Robert Parsons,
copied by Emery Walker Ltd, bromide print, July 1865.
From the museum archives © National Portrait Gallery, London, NPG x199254

 

Van Ommeren de Voogt prize

nominee

Proud to announce that my drawings were nominated for the van Ommeren de Voogt prize 2018. They are exhibited in Pulchri during the group exhibition ‘Najaarssalon’ from 22 September till 14 October 2018.
Dutch press release
Den Haag Centraal

Prize winner Paul Nassenstein, nominee Sandra Thie and myself are awarded with a group exhibition in Pulchri, January till February 2019.

Book presentation Galerie Atelier Herenplaats

The book ‘Geen woorden maar beelden, 25 jaar Galerie Atelier Herenplaats, Outsider Art in Nederland’ is also available in English. In almost 300 pages filled with wonderful images and texts, it describes the journey of Herenplaats. It is an art academy for mentally and physically challengend artists, where I enjoy teaching linocutting and etching.

The bookpresentation was held on 29 June 2017 at the Kunsthal in Rotterdam. Watch the crowdfunding clip for more details or visit the studios and exhibitions at Galerie Atelier Herenplaats. Schietbaanstraat 1, 3014 ZT Rotterdam.

Review of Rossetti’s Obsession, Exhibition

The concept of the current travelling exhibition (now at the William Morris Gallery until 4-1-2015) is perfectly in line with my own exhibition ‘A Memory Palace of Her Own’. Opposite to the room I occupied a few months earlier yet another room is filled with ‘images of Jane as herself’. Photographs, drawings and paintings are juxtaposed with Jane’s embroidery and handwriting. The exhibition offers insight in the relation between Jane as herself and Jane as a muse.

photograph by Margje Bijl, © William Morris GalleryThe exhibition illustrates that Jane Morris was multitalented, more than a pretty face. During the opening speech Jan Marsh surprised the William Morris Gallery by donating, on behalf of Frank Sharp, a book with a cover designed by Jane Morris. Photographer India-Roper Evans took photographs of the exhibition and noticed me while I was admiring the recently acquired Honeysuckle, designed by William Morris and embroideried by Jane and Jenny Morris.

© India Roper-Evans, Margje Bijl©India Roper-Evans, Parsons' photographs of Jane Morris, William Morris Gallery© India Roper-Evans, ROSSETTI'S OBSESSION AT WILLIAM MORRIS GALLERY© India Roper-Evans© India Roper-Evans After the private view of the exhibition Kirsty Walker accompanied me to visit Kelmscott Manor. They currently exhibit the Centenary Exhibition; photographs that were exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery earlier this year. At Jane Morris’ grave I have paid my homage to Jane even though she lives on in my mind… You can read Kirsty’s review of our trip here. Jane Morris' grave, Margje Bijl, photograph by Kirsty Walker, Kelmscott Manor, William Morris' grave

Review of Rossetti’s Obsession, Catalogue

A few days before John Robert Parsons photographed her, Rossetti wrote in a letter to Jane Morris: ‘…The photographer is coming at eleven on Wednesday. So I’ll expect you as early as you can manage…’.

I had always assumed that the photographs had been taken in the course of a single day. However, while reading Jan Marsh’s catalogue for the exhibition ‘Rossetti’s Obsession: Images of Jane Morris’, I became intrigued by the following paragraph: ‘In autumn 1865 the Morrises moved to Queen Square, central London; earlier in the year they had spent a few days at Tudor House, where Rossetti organised a photo shoot, with Jane taking various poses to use as studies for future compositions…’

Eager to find out how to divide the series of photographs into separate shoots, I disregarded the order used in ‘Album of Portraits of Mrs. William Morris (Jane Burden) Posed by Rossetti, 1865’. Instead, I rearranged the photographs in what I myself surmise is the actual sequence in which Parsons took these photographs. I leave it to you to decide how the photographs should be distributed over the several sessions, if at all…

The narrative and voice are from an off-the-cuff recording for my exhibition at the William Morris Gallery. If you want to buy the cd or simply leave a comment please go to the contact page!

Pre-Raphaelites in the Museo de Arte de Ponce Collection

February 4th, 2012, I attended the symposium ‘Treasures of the Collection in Context: The Pre-Raphaelites in the Museo de Arte de Ponce Collection’. Distinguished researchers in the Victorian culture presented papers. Alison Smith, Tim Barringer and Jason Rosenfeld being the curators of the upcoming exhibition ‘Pre-Raphaelites: Victorian Avant-Garde’ in the Tate Britain, London. Franny Moyle, BBC producer and author of ‘Desperate Romantics, the private lives of the Pre-Raphaelites’. Together with the speeches of Sally-Anne Huxtable, Madeleine Vala and Cheryl Hartup, the symposium provided interesting strings of thoughts on the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. Alison Smith, Tim Barringer and Jason Rosenfeld being the curators of the upcoming exhibition ‘Pre-Raphaelites: Victorian Avant-Garde’ in the Tate Britain, London. Franny Moyle, BBC producer and author of ‘Desperate Romantics, the private lives of the Pre-Raphaelites’, speeches of Sally-Anne Huxtable, Madeleine Vala and Cheryl Hartup, Hein van Liempd, Margje Bijl They are posing in front of ‘Flaming June’ by lord Leighton; my favourite of the ‘Treasures of the Collection in Context’. My other favourite is ‘Roman Widow’ by D.G. Rossetti. These two paintings had been traveling as part of the exhibition ‘Sleeping Beauty’ and were exhibited in the Gemeentemuseum of the Hague in the Netherlands. It was the first time I saw a painting by D.G. Rossetti since I was given a photograph of his muse Jane Morris. Spellbound I caught the attention of an artist. Roman Widow, Rossetti, oilpainting, Margje Bijl, Hans Rietbergen My identification with her is a metaphor for how I see the image of women in modern media. As a contemporary female artist, my struggles with the beauty myth occupied my mind until I visited the symposium and learned about the female issues in Victorian age. Attending the symposium made me understand that the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood did not merely represent their female models as objects for male desire. Their art showed social solidarity with the working classes, with democracy and women rights becoming in debate.

Due to the industrialization, many women left the countryside for the city but could not find a decent job there and sadly became prostitutes or even suicidal. The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood wanted to rescue these girls of their poor destiny. With their arms tightly locked in each other they roamed the streets hoping to catch new stunners who would model for them. They painted them as to represent injustice for all women in Victorian time. While members of the royal family were painted as if they came straight out the pub, the working class was modeled after Greek beauty ideal.

Jane Morris, the daughter of a stableman, was one of them. She modeled for D.G. Rossetti’s painting ‘Proserpine’. In Greek and Roman mythology, Proserpine was kidnapped to become the wife of Pluto, God of the underworld. She was destined to stay in the underworld half of the year, because she ate a few seeds of a pomegranate. The myth resembles the story of Adam and Eve after the forbidden bite of the apple but also has an autobiographical touch to it. The painting relates to the unhappy marriage of Jane and William Morris and the extramarital affair between Jane Morris and D.G. Rossetti. They were attracted to each other from the start but D.G. Rossetti was already engaged. So, Jane Morris accepted the marriage proposal of William Morris instead and used her intelligence and creativity in climbing the social ladder.

D.G. Rossetti’s fiancée was another ‘rescued’ working class girl: Lizzie Siddal. She was earning a decent income in a hat shop until she was discovered and became the first Pre-Raphaelite supermodel and an artist herself. But her romance with Rossetti damaged her reputation. Men and women were valued differently concerning sex before marriage and adultery. Even modeling for the Pre-Raphaelite painters was considered as the equivalent of being a prostitute. Out of convenience D.G. Rossetti tried to save her reputation by marrying her. However, after Lizzie Siddal bore his stillborn child, she committed suicide. Years earlier, Lizzie Siddal had modeled for Millais’ painting ‘Ophelia’. It represents a transition into the next world as a sensual experience, an orgasm. It depicts female desire. Together with her self portrait, ‘Ophelia’ will be one of the highlights of the upcoming exhibition ‘Pre-Raphaelites: Victorian Avant-Garde’ in the Tate Britain, London. I am also looking forward to see the embroideries Jane Morris made for William Morris’ bed, designed by their daughter May.

After the symposium, the cocktail party at the roof of the Museo de Arte de Ponce was a nice chance to meet the speekers. Days later, a song by the Rolling Stones kept popping up in my mind…You’re just a poor girl in a rich man’s house…I’ll be your knight in shining armour, coming to your emotional rescue…