From March-May 2018, The Gallery at Plymouth College of Art and Plymouth Arts Centre presented a multi-site exhibition by internationally renowned painter Rose Wylie.
As part of 'History Painting', Wylie presented a cycle of new work about the Mayflower voyage, made between 2015-2017 for this exhibition. These paintings draw on the artist's memories of first learning about the pilgrims as a young child in the 1930s, and reflect on how interpretations of history change across the ages.
Rose Wylie is best known for creating colourful, large-scale, figurative paintings that are intelligent, funny, and quietly political. These are often made from memory and draw on a wide range of cultural references from history, fashion, and Hollywood to mythology, news imagery, sports and literature. The common thread linking these fields is her interest in how images evolve and accumulate meaning, becoming familiar, iconic and part of the narrative of art, popular culture and wider history.
The works selected for Plymouth (her first exhibition within the South West) focused on Rose’s interests in film, fashion and history and responded to the context of the two galleries, their architecture, location and programmes.
Plymouth Arts Centre presented Wylie’s new Mayflower paintings alongside themes the artist has painted for many years that resonate with Plymouth’s history, including the Tudor period, the Blitz, and as a seaside resort. There was also a selection of Rose’s ‘film notes’ paintings in reference to Plymouth Arts Centre’s 70-year history as a gallery/cinema. Ben Rivers’ film What Means Something (2015), shown as part of the exhibition, reflected on his friendship with Rose, her work, and artistic processes they have in common.
At The Gallery at Plymouth College of Art, focus was given to the depiction of the female form, with a series of paintings (from 2002 to 2016) presenting pin-up girls, fashion models, sports players and a number of portraits and self-portraits.