Angels of Anarchy, Women Artists and Surrealism

26 September - 10 January

Book tickets

Tour guide blog

The first tour.

4 October 2009

This was the first of the Angels of Anarchy tours and I was joined by around 20 people. I found the tour in the exhibition space didn’t run too long as there is less walking around than there is with our Highlights tour which covers most of the gallery.

I covered 11 artworks - something from each of the five main sections plus the 'Angel of Anarchy' and one from 'Exquisite Corpse' - so there was not too much information on any one piece. I was quite happy with this number of works in the time and didn't want to waffle. Since the tour I keep remembering things that I meant to say but forget, but I expect we all do that at times. Another time I'd think about including a more contemporary artist e.g. Penny Slinger; although her pieces were from the 1970s they have a very modern look. I did include a Woodman in from 1970s.

There was a steady stream of visitors but not so crowded that a tour was difficult. Around 20 could get into the portrait gallery and the landscape room without a problem, but the room of Surrealist Objects is too small for other than a very small group - sadly!

Much as I'd like to have talked about Lee Miller's 'Severed Breast .... ' I decided not to risk it. I did point it out, however, because it had been mentioned on Woman’s Hour.

No debates arose from the visitors and I didn't want to be proactive and raise subjects myself; I'll have to think of a way of drawing this element in another time. Perhaps the groups will be a bit smaller when the exhibition has been on for a while - I'm sure debate is easier in a smaller group.

It was great to get the first tour ‘under my belt’ and I’m looking forward to hearing how the other guides get on and what the response from the visitors is like.

Listen to the the curator Patricia Allmer and writer Jeanette Winterson discussing Angels of Anarchy on Woman’s Hour via the BBCs listen again facility.


  1. I don't blame you for not wanting to go into too much detail about the 'Severed Breast...' piece! As we'd discussed in our training sessions, this work could be particularly sensitive for many reasons and is perhaps something that should be approached in one's own time. I agree that it is an important work to mention though and it was a great idea to point people in the direction of the Woman's hour programme (which everyone has been talking about as it features the curator Patricia Allmer talking to Jeanette Winterson who wrote Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit').

    Kate Day on 14 October 2009

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