Devil, Victim, Mother, Saint

Interpreting images of women in art
Michele Tallack

Michele Tallack trained first as a painter at Guildford School of Art. After having children, she went to the University of Cambridge, graduating with a B.Ed (Hons). She Lectured in the University of Cambridge Department of the History of Art and at Anglia Ruskin University. Her special interest is in English and French Art of the 18th and 19th centuries but she has also taught Modern Art and Art outside Europe. She has published work on Critical Studies in Art and on the in-service training of teachers and artists to work effectively together on Artists in Schools placements. Her research interests in Art History for schoolchildren and the use of Art to counter racism led to work on the design and implementation on the National Curriculum for Art in Schools and leadership of courses for teachers and artists working in educational settings for the Arts Council and Essex County Council.

Her talk will focus on works that relate to her interest in ways in which subject matter, themes and covert sub-texts reflect cultural, social and political ideas about the role of women in the 18th and 19th centuries. This includes looking at the literary sources of artists’ subject matter, their portrayal of contemporary and historical events. For example, she will suggest reasons why Alma-Tadema’s images of women led to his being the most economically successful artist in Britain of the 19th century.


Stunning visuals and inciteful commentary

'Like a lot of people, I have a bit of a horror of formal ‘networking’. But I can honestly say that OWF is nothing like that. There’s the chance to meet like-minded women and talk to them about the kinds of things all of us as are dealing with in our working lives, but the setting is relaxed and informal, and there’s no pressure. The events are great: something for everyone, with talks, tours and advice sessions too. I’d definitely recommend it. This was my first OWF event, and I enjoyed it a lot. Michele’s lecture was interesting and informative. As an art historian and a working artist herself, she knows her stuff, and she’s an excellent communicator. She took us through some iconic paintings and some that are less well known, pointing out the ways in which women have been cast in art and myth. The images she chose and the way she talked about them really set me thinking about how women have been perceived and presented through the ages.'