Ishbel Myerscough Grief, Longing, and Love
FLOWERS Gallery, London
4 March – 11 April, 2020
Myerscough is recognised for her highly detailed and meticulously observed portrayal of her subject matter, which over the past three decades has primarily included herself, her close friend and fellow artist Chantal Joffe, and their families. In this exhibition, Myerscough combines a focused study of youth and coming-of-age with adult experiences of parenthood, desire and bereavement, evoking the complex cycle of human experience.
Paintings of sleeping and resting figures record moments of flux from childhood to teenage and young adulthood, which Myerscough describes as a ‘passing over’ from one state to another. Here, subjects are depicted lounging on beds or sofas, as though waiting or suspended in time. Often painted with eyes closed, Myerscough’s figures reflect the hidden or inaccessible inner lives of others, distancing the sleeper from the close familial gaze.
Beds in Myerscough’s paintings are swathed in mis-matched striped patterns or swirling floral sheets, revealing a fascination with finding beauty within the everyday domestic environment.The frayed threads of careworn upholstery pull textile designs into abstraction, while fabrics can also transform the reclining figures into a tangle of partially revealed limbs.
A double portrait of herself with Chantal Joffe depicts the two painters with brushes in hand, alongside Myerscough’s daughter, who has been a subject of both artists’ work throughout her life. Across their long friendship, Myerscough has reflected their evolving personal stories and shared experiences of female identity and motherhood. In this image, as with other smaller detailed self-portraits in the exhibition, Myerscough addresses a new cycle of transition with unflinching clarity.
ABOUT ISHBEL MYERSCOUGH
Ishbel Myerscough studied at Glasgow and the Slade Schools of Art; she won the National Portrait Gallery’s annual BP Portrait Award competition in 1995 and as a result was commissioned to paint Helen Mirren’s portrait for the collection and subsequently Sir Willard White. Her portrait Two Girls (1991), was displayed in the exhibition Self at the Turner Contemporary, Margate, UK in 2015 and at the National Portrait Gallery, London, until November 2016. Her work was presented in a joint display Friendship Portraits: Chantal Joffe and Ishbel Myerscough at the National Portrait Gallery in 2015, capturing their very particular artistic collaboration; and recently was included in the exhibitions Only Connect, Royal Academy of Arts, Keeper’s House, London; and Relating Narratives – A Common World of Women, The Horse Hospital, London, 2018.