When Virginia Woolf wrote A Room of One’s Own, a series of extended essays that she had given at two British women’s colleges, she explained her premise, “a woman must have money and a room of one’s own if she is to write fiction.”
She wrote this in 1929 on the heels of the great novels where women had principal roles but very little agency or bargaining power other than their beauty. These female characters created by men – Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, Grushenka in Dostoyevsky’s The Idiot, Balzac’s La Cousin Bette or Zola’s Nana cross between re-enactments of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden when woman tempts man to his demise or a tragedies that result in the death of the female, often at the hands of a jilted lover.
“Too often when man said ‘yes,’ he entered a sphere where he was bound for ruin and when woman said ‘no,’ she was made to suffer,” said Julie Oakes, Headbones Gallery owner. “Virginia Woolf, once she had her room, went on to write a body of work that added unmitigated voices of female characters to the history of literature.”
Inspired by Woolf’s work, A Studio of One’s Own, the exhibition by Wanda Lock, runs at Headbones Gallery Jan. 11 to Feb. 25.
“This exhibition demonstrates where a woman can go to when she has the liberation of an open slate and place to work,” said Oakes. “Lock works from a large well-lit studio that is attached to her home in Lake Country. She graduated from Emily Carr College of Art an Deisgn in 1992 and moved back to the Okanagan soon after where she has pioneered her unique imagery influenced by grunge music and coming-of-age movies.”
Lock exhibits across Canada, with her latest body of multi-media works are based on the covers of harlequin romance novels. Locke’s mother having been a fan of the genre, she grew up with these idealized images of what a woman could expect from romance.
“Just as man and woman in cultural history was depicted from a variety of perspectives, now Lock has turned her gaze to the pulp fiction rendition of the dance between man and woman to make a statement, objectifying the imagery and ‘having her way’ with it,” Oakes said. “Her unabashed translation of muscled males and wilting women turns the tides on cliché role playing. “
Headbones introduces this new series from Lock with earlier works where she used her son, then a young teen, as a model. These large, accomplished, emotive paintings of her son bring the fulfillment of mothering into the visual arena.
“The result is as strong and poignant as Dostoyevsky’s War and Peace – the novel that Woolf cited as being based on an impossible subject for a woman writer for Woolf’s time, a woman was not a soldier, her place was in the home and that is where Woolf set her novels,” Oakes said. “It is interesting that the woman artist of today creates works from the relative banality of the home that commands the gallery so absolutely. With a background rich in imagery acknowledging the intellectual wealth of a woman’s perspective, Wanda Lock rules.”
An opening reception for Lock’s A Studio of One’s Own is slated for Jan. 11 at Headbones Gallery, from 6 to 8 p.m.