Angels of Anarchy, Women Artists and Surrealism

26 September - 10 January

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Tour guide blog

Expect the unexpected

16 October 2009

I did my first tour of the Angels of Anarchy exhibition at the weekend – had lots of people on the tour and it seemed to go well! I didn’t know a lot about Surrealism before the training for the exhibition and I now realise how different it is to other Art movements such as Romanticism, Pre-Raphaelitism and Impressionism that I usually talk about on the Highlights tours.

As I was taking the group around the exhibition, it struck me how we seem to always need answers and how the unusual and the inexplicable (a bizarre view of an interior/landscape or strange arrangement of objects in a still life) can throw us and take us out of our comfort zone. I was asked to explain Kay Sage’s Starlings, Caravans - all I could do was to share my own personal interpretation of this image and the effect it has had on me – it was great to hear others’ personal thoughts too. This was also the case for Eileen Agar’s Angels of Anarchy, which I see as something very colourful, flamboyant and intriguing whereas someone else on the tour found it very threatening and oppressive.

At the end of the tour, I felt that we had been on a very interesting Surrealist journey, which might help us to expect the unexpected and realise that everything doesn’t always have to be set in stone!



  1. There is something of a paradox in giving a tour of an exhibition of art which explores things like the subconcious and ideas of plurality. The meanings of the works shift depending on who is viewing them so, as a guide, if you're asked to interpret an art work you can only really offer a personal one. And I love the idea of the tour as a 'surrealist journey'!

    Kate Day on 17 October 2009

  2. Great blog Isabelle. Highlighting the different ways we interpret specific works is also of interest to me. One woman's angel is another woman's oppressor! I shall look forward to the next one.

    Louise Thompson on 18 October 2009

  3. Great blog, Isabelle!

    Louise Thompson on 18 October 2009

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