“MODELS TRIPTYCH ” 1982 - 83


ART PRESS A series of paintings on plaster, based on portraits by once famous women artists, reveals that women have often chosen to become not only artists but their own models, a fusion of the active and passive roles. In these works the subject cannot be divorced from the surrounding frame which Garrard has constructed with casts of objects from her own childhood. The equally difficult male and female stereotypes, macho virility and virginal purity are summed up as impossible roles through the emblems of her father's service revolver and her mother's statue of the Madonna which tumble from the opened frames.
Ann Compton, 'Frames of Mind', Kettle's Yard, Cambridge 1983

POPULAR PRESS A self-portrait by Artemisia Gentileschi repainted as a fresco on plaster and framed by gun fragments - Rose Garrard's 'Flaccid Guns' carries a wealth of personal and public references. Guns, symbols of destructive macho virility, have a special meaning for her. As a child she was forbidden to open the box containing her father's service gun. Later he left it to her in his will.

The box opens, the frame crumbles - women, traditionally the passive subjects of men's art, recreate their own images. The controlling power of the gun, the frame, is broken. If Gentileschi represents 'fallen woman', the painter Judith Leyster symbolises the virgin who also transcends social norms by picking up the brush. Her self portrait is framed by cascading Madonnas cast from the virgin placed by Rose's bed by her Catholic mother.
Sarah Kent, Time Out, March 25 1983

In many of the exhibits the dominance of the frame is contested and partially broken down. Several paintings are based on self-portraits of women artists from the past and in each case they turn out to be distinguished painters who suffered great indignities.
Artemisia Gentileschi, the 17th century Italian. artist, was raped by a ruthless friend of her father's. Judith Leyster, at work in Holland during the same period, was almost erased from history after her death by dealers who attributed her work to male contemporaries like Hals. And Elizabeth VigeeLe Brun was exploited both by her step-father and the man she was forced to marry, handing over the payments received for her portraits in order to absorb their debts.

Ultimately all three women triumphed over adversity; Gentileschi channeled her aggrieved fury into marvelously combative paintings of Judith beheading Holofernes, while Vigee-Le Brun became a successful and prolific painter much favoured by Marie Antoinette. Even the neglected Leyster is coming into her own now that wrongly ascribed canvases have been restored to her authorship and Garrard's images reflect the idea of resisting the limits which society has placed around women artists.

Frames refuse to travel all the way round pictures, breaking off in order to plunge towards the ground. Even when they do remain firmly fixed to all four edges of a painting, as in the portrait of Gentileschi, defiance is implied by the gun motif incorporated in the frame's decoration. But there is no sense of a battle easily won. Garrard's approach remains cool, analytical and tinged with a melancholy which acknowledges how much has yet to be done before women shake off all their constraints.
Rihard Cork, Evening Standard, April 7 1983

Models Triptych

ARTIST'S NOTES In the centre of the exhibition, suddenly I had this realisation that I had never experienced this situation before - of being totally surrounded by brush marks by women artists that stretched right back through history. I felt part of a continuum for the first time. And there was anger, rage that for so many years there had been this absence that I couldn't even identify until now.

When I got back to London I had this sense that I really wanted to know this painting, (La Pittura by Artemisia Gentileschi) so I went to the studio without knowing what I was going to do, other than wanting instinctively to replicate the painting, to touch the image with my own brush marks. I poured this plaster panel; I wanted a ground that flowed, that had movement and wasn't geometrically confined. It was reinforced with layers of scrim deliberately placed very close to the surface to break through it in places, so that the paint itself couldn't be totally controlled. So I began painting this fresco panel, hoping the acrylic paint would be absorbed differently by the two materials, sometimes resting on the surface, sometimes sinking into separate layers. I built the frame in plaster enclosing the image on three sides. This was the more measured intellectual response to the emotional need to reclaim the image, to absorb it into my own background.
Rose Garrard 1985

ART PRESS  ART VIEW; ‘NEW ART’ ANIMATES THE TATE   There are pieces in the show that have acquired an Old Master presence in just a short while. Richard Long's ''Slate Circle'' is one such.  Another is Neil Jenney's comment on the arms race, ''Them and Us'' (1969).  Among Americans who have crossed the ocean to good effect, Tom Otterness stands out with a door-frame installation that takes a formula derived from Rodin and turns it to euphoric ends.  Among the English artists who were new to me, Rose Garrard made a particular impact with three paintings in which the sculptured frame suddenly gets the upper hand of the painted image.  The painting reproduced here, with its cascading handguns and dreamy standing figure, is a prime example of this.  Altogether, therefore, ‘New Art’ presents a predominantly playful face in London, and anguish, hatred, poverty, violence, alienation and political strife have been told to go away and come back another day. 
John Russell, New York Times 9 Oct 1983

The acrylic on plaster paintings have been combined with ornate plaster on wood frames of archetypal objects, but the frames dramatically open rather than enclose. In that of Gentileschi 'Flaccid Guns' the guns melt, flowing away from the image; in that of Vigee-Le Brun 'Bird Talk' the birds lift off from the image; in that of Leyster 'Madonna Cascade' the figurines tumble out to the floor. Garrard's reclamation of these artists may be an attempt to displace the aura and linearity of a male defined tradition, but she is not interested in replacing this with any equivalent female pantheon. What interests her is the status these three women artists achieved in their time, their professional status as such. The recovery of these artists began in the early seventies, but for Garrard the question of unpacking the reasons why they were lost to history is not just an anthropological gesture, rather it cuts deep into her background and experience.
John Roberts, 'Between Ourselves', Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, 1984

ARTIST'S NOTES 'Models Triptych' was selected to be shown in 'New Art' at the Tate Gallery, an exhibition which claimed to show a range of the best work produced world-wide in the last four years. To me their inclusion signified the gallery's   interest in representing women artists and I was thrilled that the images of these three self portraits which encompass a large part of our forgotten history, should appear in a mainstream exhibition reminding people of this absence. However when I looked around the exhibition I was disheartened to find that only six of the eighty four artists selected were women, and two of these appeared as partners of male exhibitors.
Rose Garrard 1987

'Frameworks' Lewis Johnstone Gallery London
'New Art' Tate Gallery London

Three plaster on wood, painted fresco panels with integral plaster 'frames'

'Flaccid Guns' Alex Lotocki-de-Veligost New York
'Madonna Cascade' New Hall College Cambridge
'Bird Talk' Roger and Cathy Wills Cheshire.