Houses are really bodies: escape, defiance and friendship in the writing of Leonora Carrington




















Private View: Thursday 27 April 2017, 6.30-8.30pm 

28 April – 4 June 2017
Gallery open Wed-Sun, 12.00 – 6.00pm


Leonora Carrington (1917 – 2011) was born in England but spent most of her life in Mexico. Widely recognized as one of the last remaining participants of the Surrealist movement until her death in 2011, she was also a writer and founding member of the Mexican Women’s Liberation Movement.

Carrington has, at times, been left out of the traditional art historical canon, often categorized instead for love affairs, beauty and a much misunderstood period of mental illness. Much has been done to correct this in recent times; culminating in her centenary this year with celebrations of the artist and her work taking place internationally.

This exhibition considers Carrington’s role as a resistor; an artist who achieved both personal and political change through lifelong acts of defiance, enabling her to escape the English class system, patriarchy and incarceration. This defiance, alongside her commitment to friendship and personal transformation were channelled via surrealism and the fantastical both personally and for the humans and animals she depicted in her work.

Houses are really bodies explores the artist’s writing and the ideas and matters that emerge from this work. The exhibition, designed with vPPR Architects, brings visitors together in a collective moment, to hear excerpts from her most famous story, an ode to ageing, The Hearing Trumpet, the description of her time in an asylum Down Below and the short stories The Debutante, The Sand Camel, The House of Fear and The Happy Corpse Story.

The exhibition includes a reading room featuring selected resource materials alongside original works by Carrington.

In her lifetime Carrington was featured in exhibitions at the Exposition Internationale du Surréalisme, Galerie Beaux-Arts, Paris, France (1938); The Serpentine Gallery, London, (1991); Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (2001) and had solo exhibitions at Galería de Arte Mexicano, Mexico City (1956 & 1969) and Art Company, Leeds (1990). Posthumously Carrington has had solo exhibitions at The Irish Museum of Modern Art (2013) and Tate Liverpool (2015).  She is featured in collections including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Tate and the Peggy Guggenheim Collection.

The readers, a selection of old and new friendships, are: Maggi Adams; Chloe Aridjis; Simeon Barclay; Kristian Cooper; Laure Garrard; Maike Hale-Jones;  Jasleen Kaur; Lorraine O’Grady; Heather Phillipson and Angharad Williams.


New York-based artist and critic Lorraine O’Grady has recorded an additional reading of The Happy Corpse Story by Leonora Carrington, taken from the publication The Debutante & Other Stories, Silver Press, 2017. This new audio track is exclusively available on our Soundcloud below.


Free Public Programme Events

Tuesday 2 May 7pm
Talking about Leonora Carrington with Chloe Aridjis (writer and co-curator Leonora Carrington, Tate Liverpool 2015), Jennifer Higgie (editor, Frieze) and Marina Warner (writer and mythographer).
Booking essential – reserve your ticket here

Thursday 25 May 7pm
Escape, Defiance, Friendship: an evening of readings by Karen Di Franco (curator and researcher), Maike Hale-Jones (writer), Jasleen Kaur (artist), Heather Phillipson (artist and poet) and Angharad Williams (artist).
No booking required.

Saturday 27 May 12-8pm
An all day reading of The Hearing Trumpet
If you’d like to take part email by Friday 12th May

















Houses are really bodies, installation views. Photography by Mark Blower.


Cubitt Gallery is part of an artist-led organisation based in Islington, London. We promote innovative curatorial practice with an 18-month Bursary, supporting curators at the beginning of their careers.

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