Harbingers: Loie, Artemisia, Pixie, Sarah and Lilith | Hannah Gartside

Hannah Gartside repurposes vintage garments and fabric into installations that celebrate femininity, sensuality and subjectivity. This ambitious series consists of five kinetic textile sculptures that represent an iconic female figure of the past, including dancer Loïe Fuller (1862–1928), painter Artemisia Gentileschi (1593–1656),
illustrator Pamela ‘Pixie’ Colman Smith (1878–1951), Biblical ur-woman Lilith, and actor Sarah Bernhardt (1844–1923).

Made from 19th and 20th century clothes and fabric, the works were designed with their subjects’ personal histories in mind – splays of red velvet evoke the violent scenes of Artemisia Gentileschi’s renowned 17th century paintings, a sail of pink silk crêpe honours Loïe Fuller’s pioneering stage lighting designs and moving fabric costuming. The suspended forms assert their bodily presence, choreographically revolving and whirring.

These works highlight the erasure of women from the canon of art history, and ongoing gender inequality more broadly. They consider the recent sexual assault allegations in Australian Parliament, which Gartside explains, ‘…reaffirmed the focus of this work and the urgency to be addressing it here, in my language of cloth…[the works are the] marrying of sensuality, courage and bravura; relentless assertion for change.’