Well-known women take on historical roles in artist’s show

Emilia Fox as Marie Antoinette by Alice Instone
Emilia Fox as Marie Antoinette by Alice Instone

She Should Have Known Better is a new series of work by artist Alice Instone on show at the former home of the writer Henry James - Lamb House, Rye (now owned by the National Trust) in December 2013.

Instone’s highly charged paintings of women draw on James’ themes of freedom and transgression to showcase women who broke the rules.

A number of well known women have sat as James’ heroines or notorious women from history; including Helen McCrory, Charlotte Church, Claudia Winkleman, Emma Freud, Jo Wood, Emilia Fox, Alice Temperley, Lola Lennox and Nicole Farhi.

Alice said: “James wrote about women who were constrained by society’s rules and who were punished for breaking them.

“I’m interested in how we still punish women who don’t fit our expectations, whether in the press or in daily life.

“Lamb House is fantastically atmospheric and a beautiful building so I hope the work also reflects this.

“James wrote, ‘we work in the dark’, something that has comforted me when I didn’t know what I was doing, or felt uncertain whether to risk ruining a painting with an experiment!”

Actress Emilia Fox said of Alice Instone: “I am in total awe of her work and the incredible women she has used to inspire her, both historically and present day.”

Television presenter Claudia Winkleman said: “I loved sitting for Alice. We drank tea and talked about Theda Bara and I wore a fake fur stole. It was win win.”

Alice Instone is an English artist who makes paintings of women concerned with gender and power, frequently depicting influential or well known public figures from Annie Lennox to Cherie Blair.

Her work is held in several public collections and her solo exhibitions include the House of Commons, the Royal Society of Arts, Northampton Museum, Chanel Head Office, More London Place, The Cob Gallery and The House of St Barnabas in Soho.

Her work draws attention to how we consume images of women and the female archetype and historical stories and images are appropriated as part of the artist’s enquiry into the potency of certain images.

Instone was selected as a Woman of Achievement by Woman of the Year and regularly

features in the press, radio and television.

She lives in the Isle of Oxney with her husband and two children.

Lamb House is in West Street, Rye. Visit nationaltrust.org.uk.