The fireworks have been going off for a good hour now - I wish I could see them instead of just being able to hear them - but happy Diwali to all who celebrate it.
Meanwhile, I've put down my knitting (I must get that jumper finished) and tried to shuffle around my books again which has pushed 'The Art of Doris and Anna Zinkeisen' to the top of the pile. I discovered the Zinkeisen sisters at the Modern Scottish Women Painters and Sculptors exhibition in Edinburgh back in 2016. It was an outstanding exhibition, with one of the most arresting images in it being a portrait by Doris Zinkeisen. Since then I've actively looked out for mentions of the sister's work - which have appeared in a steady trickle, so far culminating in this book which has been written to celebrate the recent purchase by Colchester and Ipswich museum services of a Doris Zinkeisen triple portrait.
The rediscovery of the Zinkeisen sisters is part of a growing and overdue trend to reclaim women artists from obscurity and they're interesting for a number of reasons. The first is that their portraits are remarkable - both powerful and fabulously glamorous in the fashion of the day - especially those from the 1930s to the 1950s. Secondly, they were successful designers of posters, including some fairly famous posters for the London Underground and the train network, stage sets, and costumes. There's their work as war artists, including some horrific images of Belson. They also painted murals and there's even a toy theatre which I won't give too many details about as it's still available online for not huge prices and I'm dithering over buying one before they become prohibitively expensive.
This combination of art and design is heady stuff, it really does feel like they capture the mood of the 1930s - 50s through a combination of direct observation and design-led interpretation, influencing and recording at the same time. Understanding the full range of what the sisters produced gives added depth to some of the more commercial work, and an added punch to some of the war pieces when you see the contrast between them.
This book should be a must for anybody who has an interest in women's writing from the middle of the 20th century - it's a painted version of all those middle-brow novels that we love. It's also an excellent start on reassessing the work of two undeservedly overlooked artists - and basically, it's a real treat for the eyes. Put it on your Christmas list, buy it just because - you will not be disappointed (at least I can't see how you could be)!
Published by Unicorn Publishing Group: Home Page