Links to and excerpts from Victoria Rance's writing and reviews about other artists.

Back to 2018 and I am trying to find what relevance the Lorenzetti fresco means for us now. He was presenting us with an ideal to aim for. A way to think of ourselves as humans overcoming our beastly natures. Thinking about discord and misrule I realise that you can’t suppress the female without a backlash. If you have Trump as president with his inability to respect women, using, then paying off a porn star when his wife has just given birth, and scorning women, pacing the stage like a tyrant, then something has to give. I happened to be in America when he referred to the menstruation of a women interviewer, trying to belittle her by describing her “tears of blood”, betraying his deep misogyny. There has to be a balance, and Peace and Concord will only rule over us all when we have a balance of power between the sexes. Lorenzetti’s frescoes were about balance. Justice is tied up and helpless in the scene of bad government. In the scene of good government Justice carefully measures out with her scales. Beneath her Concord holds a plane to make sure all is even. Above the well governed city hovers Security with a scroll which reads “Every man can travel freely without fear, and each can till and sow, so long as the commune keeps this lady [Justice] as sovereign for she has stripped the wicked of all power.” Behind her a wicked man has been hung. Watching on from the adjacent fresco is Peace.
And in this way she gives the prints something which a photograph of atrocities cannot do. She has responded, felt, focused in, composed, and worked on these images until they were right. Only once did she have to abandon a print. Every other time she has been able to scratch, scrape and salvage an image into life, and that energy demands that we look and that we cannot turn away. We are compelled to identify and respond. These people could be any of us in other circumstances.
In the UK now (tuition fees and recession aside) there is undoubtedly a better context for women artists than there was thirty years ago. There are more women lecturers, more gallerists, wider teaching of feminist art history, many very successful women artists as role models. On a personal level men do more childcare, and women artists are more often supported by their partners in the way that traditionally male artists were.  There has also been a growing number of older women artists lauded and exhibited in major venues and of all-women and more overtly feminist shows in major public galleries internationally. Most of the population in the UK would now agree that women should  have equal rights to men, and even 'gender'  as a construct is under question. These are all areas of progress and should be valued and protected especially in times when civilisation itself can seem like a thin veneer.

  •  2015 From On a Headland of Lava Beside You The Learned Pig  Victoria Rance interviews Joanna Kirk about her show at Blain|Southern
VR: I was also thinking about the pastels not just in terms of colour, but that they are made of chalk – the basis of which is the layers of shells of microscopic sea creatures formed over millions of years. You are using remnants of landscape to depict it as the cave painters did. But then I realised with a shock that of course we are made of the landscape too – the earth. Everything on this planet comes from it, but we humans have the most agency. We have become ambivalent: forgetting our primal relationship to the earth and actively destroying it. Your paintings bring us back to a recognition of Mother Earth, the body we all emerge from – depictions of the tiny, tiny human on an amazing planet, as if we are seeing it or landing on it for the first time.

Joanna’s relationship to space is an odd one. The paintings do not depict actual space, but have more of a corporeal or symbolist quality. She says they are not landscapes, and they are both huge and claustrophobic, in that you feel enveloped in them, with little chance of escape.... She says “I feel they are psychological landscapes, I’m not interested in them for their own sake, there’s always someone in it and that person is living out something in the landscape.” The size of the figures can be tiny as in Caspar David Friedrich’s Tombs of the Fallen in the Fight for Independence. And there is a Romantic 19th Century feel in America actually a depiction of The Aber Falls in Wales... Drawn initially with carmine red, the colour is built up and up until the whole canvas is covered with a swirling mass of tiny marks. She says: “You should be able to go into any part of the picture and it be resolved – nothing is left to chance.” The interior of the body comes to mind, the minutiae of the alveoli. The eye travels round across the blue branches, down the white waterfall, over the red rocks and boulders, searching for a place to rest, again eliciting a sense of breathlessness.

Roxy Walsh’s work does not want to be pinned down or completely understood and described. There is always the sense of something or someone hiding. It holds secrets that do not want to be guessed, although it doesn’t mind you looking and having a go. They are fleeting moments too, like kingfishers ‘usually seen when they have just gone’. She hints at ideas and meaning in her catalogue with texts related to the images of the work, but then you realize that these were pieces of writing by others, which may have been chosen before or after painting and may either elucidate or give camouflage. The relationship between word and image is raised by Two Tongues Tied.
The household behind the net is as chaotic as usual, but this passageway felt like a metaphor for an idea pushed to its conclusion: a thought that has a will of its own and can cut through swathes of physical domestic demands and reach a satisfying end; a path through the mind too - all those interrupting thoughts put to one side as we focus on getting from the beginning of an idea and ruthlessly concentrate until its work is done. 
Although it is ostensibly the child's speech that is being developed, what is so exciting when seeing this work is a strong sense of the birth of a voice. It is the beginning of a conscious articulation of the subjective female voice in fine art practice, specifically that of mother-as-artist, and this is embedded in the artwork even in the absence of the notes. (In relation to Post Partum Document)
In 1951, Potter moved with her husband to Aldeburgh on the east coast of Suffolk and lived in The Red House, which she swapped, in 1957, for Crag House, owned by Benjamin Britten, with whom she became a close friend after her divorce in 1955. With her children grown, she spent long hours painting. By mixing paint with beeswax, she achieved a "chalky luminous quality" using a "pale and subtle" range of colours, and her work grew increasingly abstract. In his essay for the catalogue of her 1965 Whitechapel Art Gallery exhibition, Mary Potter Paintings 1938–1964, museum director Kenneth Clark said Potter's works "exist in the domain of seeing and feeling; we know that they are exactly right in the same way that we know a singer to be perfectly in tune"; he described her paintings as "enchanting moments of heightened perception".