Tuesday, 7 July 2009


Mrs Edward Mayer as Medusa

I'm loving working on my new water colour paintings inspired by sailor tattoos, pin-ups and nautical sayings. This week I was lucky enough to find out about a fabulous photographer called Madame Yevonde who was a pioneer of colour photography from the 1930's!

Her beautiful images fit perfectly with my current inspirations of dreamy, melancholy and melodramatic images and emotions evoked by the likes of French artists like Air and Pierre and Giles (see two posts ago). In fact I can see a lot of similarities between her work and that of the french photographic duo.

Madame Yevonde was a revolutionary, beginning her life as a devoted promoter of the suffragette movement and staying a supporter of women's rights throughout her life. By the age of 21 had set up her own photographic studio. Her photos were very different for their time, using props and costumes and friends as models (usually high society ladies, one even being the Prime minister's wife!) she created a new and exciting way of exploring women's social and sexual roles.

I particularly like her 'Goddesses' series from 1935, where the sitters are transformed by simple props and symbols into mythical women who's iconography has stayed strong throughout the ages.

The Hon Mrs Byran Guiness as Venus

Her images have the same otherworldly quality I am enjoying creating in my own work which I am infusing with a vintage and magical atmosphere.

'On the Rocks' finished but unframed

'All at Sea' in progress

What's more Yevonde did a study of nautical tattoos! I was so excited to find this out! She was interested in the symbolism behind both male and female tattoos and the strong sexual impulse they could both imply. She photographed the tattoos combined with knots, representing links and binding, and possibly exploring the relationship between the sexes.

Madame Yevonde is obviously a very important artist from the 20th Century and one I think may have been overshadowed by her male counterparts such as Man Ray, such is the irony! However I am now a proud owner of a beautiful exihibition catalogue and postcards of her work, which I am very happy about!


Gingeyginge said...

Great post!

Mandy said...

Very interesting post... I like how you draw your inspiration from several different mediums and sources. Very creative!

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