Photo via Artlyst

Why have I never heard of Rachel Howard? Is what I thought earlier this year when a gorgeous painting caught my eye as I walked past Blain Southern’s London gallery. Curious, I did a sharp right turn and headed straight in. Where I discovered that the under-the-radar, 49-year-old artist has another larger exhibition opening this week at the stunning Newport Street Gallery. Subsequent research tells me that Howard grew up on a farm in County Durham, graduated from Goldsmith’s in the 1990s and assisted Brit Artist Damien Hirst in the early days. She also had four children in her twenties and recently explained her faff-free approach to inews, ‘I never fanny around in my studio: I’m a doer. When I went into my studio I was an artist – when I went into my front door I was a mother. That’s been my rule pretty much for the last 22 years.’

Rachel Howard’s work has a lovely smudgy, worn quality – the black painted grids and lines and disintegrated layers make her paintings look like old textiles or wallpaper. And Newport Street Gallery is just down the road, so I know what I’ll be doing this weekend.

Photos: Blain Southern

Rachel Howard: Der Kuss is on at Blain Southern until 17 March 2018 and Rachel Howard: Repetition is Truth is on at Newport Street Gallery until 28 May 2018.

And there’s a video interview with Rachel Howard (and Will Self) HERE.

 

11 thoughts on “Rachel Howard: the artist you need to know about

  1. Thank you for this Alyson. A fabulous female artist of my age group AND Will Self (a favourite writer of mine). The large photo looks like a particularly well worn, white painted floor to me. One that has endured years of knocks, dogs, dropped cast iron cooking pans and life.
    I’m spending a lot of time in a metal-bashing studio at present, and I’m completely in love with texture. So good to see this kind of art on a style blog.
    I’m a Manchester Poly alumnus too, I like to think it really enlightened me in terms of art, design and culture generally. As a proud working class East End girl, it breaks my heart that Arts education is underfunded, and that poor kids are now so hampered by student debt.
    Culture posts like these are also what makes your blog so special 🙂

  2. Thanks, Jodi. I agree with you about arts funding and higher education – as a working class northerner I’m not sure what I would do if I was young today, without a student grant. As The Smith’s song goes, ‘Manchester so much to answer for.’
    We must’ve been there at the same time…

  3. I was into my twenties when I went, so probably a few years later than you Alyson. I used to live in Goth black garb from Afflecks, still love vintage and met my husband of 25 years dancing to The Mission at the Banshee Club – yep, ‘so much to answer for’!

  4. Thanks for the alert Alyson, will definitely try and catch next time work calls me to the smoke. I’m assuming your first question was rhetorical. Why have we have all heard of the overhyped giganticly egoed Mr Hirst but not Rachel Howard? Ooh that’s a hard one!

  5. Thank you, Alyson! I watched the interview and really enjoyed hearing the discussion between Will Self and Rachel Howard. I love how artists talk about art and technique, etc. Of course, they don’t have to say anything at all! But when they do, it’s (usually) pretty darn interesting. Thank you for the introduction to RH, someone whose work I didn’t know. I’m particularly grateful because I just read Ali Smith’s book Autumn, with its investigation of the work of Pauline Boty.

    1. Thanks for the recommend Anne. I remember seeing this book reviewed in the Guardian a bit back and have just ordered it now.
      Why isn’t Pauline Boty as well known as the male members of the Pop Art movement?. Alas, we can only imagine…

  6. Thanks Alyson for this introduction to an artist RH I haven’t heard of. Two points to make on the subject of women artists and their underrepresentation. One is that Alastair Sooke made an interesting program in 2014 ” Pop go the Women: The Other Story of Pop Art ” which included Pauline Boty, Marisol and others. Maybe it’s still available to view. He also wrote a small book about Pop Art and its artists which may well include women.

    From research just now I confirmed that Maria Grazia Chiuri at Dior produced a Breton striped top for this season imprinted with the words : WHY HAVE THERE BEEN NO GREAT WOMEN ARTISTS ?
    I learned this is the title of Linda Nochlin’s Feminist art history tract from 1971. A perfect moment now to pose this question.
    Since I can’t buy this one I think I shall embroider a slogan on one of my striped tops.

    I was born and brought up in Manchester but in suburban Didsbury daughter of an artist and university professor. I attended Manchester High school before we moved to Brighton when I was a young teenager. Have been back several times with my family including checking out Man U Stadium and Liebskind designed Imperial War Museum of the North when it opened.

    Going up in early March for meetings on an arts campaign I’m involved with. Visit to childhood home on the cards.

    I didn’t go to art school initially but trained to be an architect at a time when there were only 5% Women in the RIBA. Same question can be asked: Why have there been no great women architects? Only one I can think of is the late, great Zaha Hadid. Same age roughly as myself. Eventually winner of the most prestigious architectural awards after years in the wilderness including having her winning design for Cardiff Opera House cancelled and someone else’s’ less remarkable design built in its place.
    Alyson an excellent breadth of topics have been covered on That’s Not My Age recently from the serious to the less so. Keep up the good work.

  7. On the different subject of striped outfits I just saw you as a Style Ambassador on the Gudrun Sjoden website. I liked what the did with the monochrome outfit. Wide legged black trousers with white plimsoles as a counterpoint to the wide striped top. And partially tucked in at the waist. Just how I’d wear stripes and Breton tops of which I own a large number mostly from Cos in different colour ways. I recall your feature on this brand which isn’t one I would think to look at, put off a bit by the hippie element in their ads. In moderation clearly the way to wear these garments. Maybe you could have another feature this spring on how to wear stripes in general with some of these thrown in. I see from The Times colour mag yesterday many many stripey clothes for spring. Just a thought.

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