Claude Cahun: Beneath this Mask at Abbot Hall Art Gallery

Maja Lorkowska, Exhibitions Editor
Claude Cahun mirrored self portrait
Jersey Heritage

Claude Cahun: Beneath this Mask at Abbot Hall Art Gallery, Cumbria Until 3 August 2024 Tickets from £0.00 — Book now

Lakeland Arts’ Abbot Hall celebrates the work of Claude Cahun with the show Beneath this Mask – an artist best known for her self portraits, brave in their originality and gender-defying style.

Beneath this Mask features 42 photographs in the form of contemporary giclée prints made from scans of Cahun’s original photographic self-portraits. This Hayward Gallery touring exhibition is produced in collaboration with Jersey Heritage and was first presented at the Women of the World Festival 2015 at the Southbank Centre. 

You may wonder what the artist’s connection is to the island of Jersey. The French Surrealist photographer, sculptor, and writer’s life story is a complex one, touched by the horror of war. Despite the difficulties, Cahun continued to create art and stay involved in activist initiatives and resistance work during World War II. Having settled in Jersey in 1937, she lived there with her lifelong partner and artistic collaborator Marcel Moore (pseudonym of Suzanne Malherbe). Due to their fervent fight against war and the Nazis the pair were arrested in 1944 and sentenced to death, but the sentence was never carried out. Cahun died on the island in 1954 and has since become an important part of its history.

Despite a broad creative output, Cahun is best known for her photographs in part because of their ground-breaking approach to gender fluidity and self-representation. The artist may have joined a long tradition of self portraiture, but with each image she created herself anew with props, makeup or a shaved head, as well as photographic tools like collage, multiple exposure and the use of mirrors. In a way, the resulting performative images can be seen as anti-portraiture, actively avoiding capturing a true likeness.

As Claude Cahun’s work has only received the recognition it deserves in the last few decades, any opportunity to experience her work at first hand is a valuable one. Visit Abbot House to see the work of this true visionary.

Claude Cahun: Beneath this Mask at Abbot Hall Art Gallery, Cumbria Until 3 August 2024 Tickets from £0.00 Book now

What's on at Abbot Hall Art Gallery

Where to go near Claude Cahun: Beneath this Mask at Abbot Hall Art Gallery

Cross Lane Projects, Kendal, Cumbria. Art gallery, artist studios and exhibition space
Kendal and Sedbergh
Gallery
Cross Lane Projects

Founded by artists Rebecca Scott and Mark Woods, Cross Lane Projects brings new contemporary art to Cumbria and is situated in a former Kendal Mint Cake factory in central Kendal.

Comida
Kendal and Sedbergh
Restaurant
Comida

Spanish inspired restaurant serves up Iberian classic dishes such as Spanish Omelette and Chorizo, plus many intriguing wines.

Fell Bar Brewery
Kendal and Sedbergh
Bar or Pub
Fell Bar Brewery

Fell Bar is an outlet for the Fell Brewery and a great independent venue in itself, with a broad range of connoisseur-level craft beers.

The Joshua Tree
Kendal and Sedbergh
Restaurant
The Joshua Tree

The Joshua Tree is a family-run, homely bistro and restaurant housed in a sixteenth century building, specialising in coffee and exquisite fish and meat dishes.

What's on: Exhibitions

Culture Guides

Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga
Cinema in Manchester and the North

From the latest installment in the Mad Max franchise, to silent movie masterpieces we highlight the best new releases and big screen classics showing near you this month.