This special project by Bob and Roberta Smith RA explores the story of women artists and the Royal Academy – through the lens of his own family history. Bob and Roberta Smith’s mother, the artist Deirdre Borlase, regularly exhibited in the RA’s Summer Exhibition. She thought she was more likely to be selected if she submitted works without her first name, to avoid giving away her gender. Members of Borlase’s family explore her story, and some of the other – sometimes strained – relationships between women and the Royal Academy over its history.
Three new sculptures include This is Deirdre Borlase ARCA, 2018, by Bob and Roberta Smith RA and sculptures of the Academy’s female founders, Mary Moser RA and Angelica Kauffman RA, created by Smith in collaboration with his wife, Jessica Voorsanger, and their daughter, Etta Voorsanger-Brill.
The sculpture of Angelica Kauffman, a collaboration with Jessica Voorsanger is covered in 15 portraits of women artists she is inspired by starting with Angelica Kauffman (as the head) to Mona Hatoum and Alice Neel amongst others.
The portraits of women artists on the collaborative sculpture are: Laurie Anderson, Sofonisba Anguissola, Sonia Boyce, Claude Cahun, Mona Hatoum, Frida Kahlo, Angelica Kauffman, Lee Krasner, Yayoi Kusama, Edmonia Lewis, Ana Mandieta, Alice Neel, Georgia O’Keefe, Lorna Simpson and Kara Walker.
The accompanying book Bob and Roberta Smith: The Secret to a Good Life explores the role of women artists, the sexism of the art world and the benefits of drawing every day. Find out more.