A History of Surrealism and Witchcraft Prevails at the LAMB Gallery with 11 Artists

Nooka Sheperd 'Wyrd Night', 2023, oil on panel 79cmx80cm. Courtesy of the artist

As the Surrealist movement was traditionally male-dominated, the figure of the witch offered a mythical and mysterious way for women artists to explore their own ideas about the mind and body. Mayfair’s LAMB Gallery in London embraces the significance of witches to feminist exploration in a new exhibition Surrealism and Witchcraft.

Featuring previous and newly commissioned works from 11 emerging and established female artists, the exhibition shows the evolution of the witch and the thought of women embarking on Surrealism, during the first half of the 20th century until present. Artists on view include Alma Berrow, Bea Bonafini, Leonaro Carrington, Harriet GIllettm Arianne Hughes, Tali Lennox, Paula Rego, Nooka Sheperd, Paula Turmina, Sophie von Hellermann, and Georg Wilson.

Leonora Carrington’s series of witch hats (c. 1955) is exhibited as a key departure point for the exhibition. The five gouaches were found within one of the portfolios of Leonor Fini, fellow Surrealist and Carrington’s longtime friend, at the time of her death. Born out of Fini’s 1952 commission to design a set of otherworldly hats in Paris, she enlisted Carrington as a collaborator and the project was to result in a joint show. Although the show was sadly never realized, the series of witch hats serves as a testament of both the close friendship between the two artists and their shared fascination with witchcraft. Blending pre-existing works from other canonical voices like the late Paula Rego’s with new works from emerging talent, Surrealism and Witchcraft provides a compelling overview of how manifestations of the witch have evolved. Inviting viewers into their mystical world, the show comprises around 90% new commissions and highlights the ongoing reinvigoration of the witch through unseen pieces by Sophie von Hellermann and many more.

Lucinda Bellm, LAMB’s founder and director states, “Now that discussions around feminism, gender, and power dynamics are increasingly vital, it’s the perfect moment to celebrate female artists who draw inspiration from surrealism” where “the witch offers a means to delve into complex themes of dreams, gender and sexuality.”

Surrealism and Witchcraft is on view through December 20, Carrington’s series of witch hats from 1955 offer whimsical symbolism while Wilson’s works visualize a mischievous but connected relationship of the witch and nature. The pieces on view offer a variety of hues, brush techniques, and sculpted pieces that will lead anybody down a path of awe over the unyielding figure of the witch.

Leonora Carrington, Chapeau casque antique - Carrington c. 1955. Image courtesy of private collection./Chapeau sport, c. 1955. Image courtesy of private collection.