Leonora Carrington: Living Legacies

Ailsa Cox, James Hewison, Michelle Man, Roger Shannon (Eds.)

by Catriona McAra (Leeds Arts University), Alessia Zinnari (University of Glasgow), Tara Plunkett (University College Dublin), James Hewison (Edge Hill University), Michelle Man (Edge Hill University), Andrea Gremels (Goethe-Universität Frankfurt), Jon Lee (London South Bank University), Gerogina Sowerby (London South Bank University), Julia Salmerón (Universidad Autonóma de Madrid, Spain), Penny Sharman , Alicia Kent (King's College London), Felicity Gee (University of Exeter), Claire Dean (Edge Hill University), Gabriel Weisz Carrington (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Mexico), Roger Shannon (Edge Hill University)

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The volume’s contents are [...] eclectic in nature, but several through lines can be discerned: the feminist lens; hybrid bodies; borders and thresholds; spaces, symbolic and real; mischief and play.

An interview with Carrington’s eldest son, Gabriel Weisz Carrington (209–18), rounds out the rich offerings in this collection, which joins other recent publications as an essential point of reference for a new generation of Carrington scholars and admirers.

Margaret Carson,
The City University of New York

'Leonora Carrington: Living Legacies' puts the accent on “living” and offers the reader a fascinating collection of essays written by many presenters from the Leonora Carrington Centenary Symposium held at Edge Hill University in Lancashire, England in 2017, and located quite near to Carrington’s early childhood home Crookhey Hall, in Lancashire. This volume  presents a body of papers that take us on many journeys into the creative works, in many genres being done today by those who have not only studied Carrington’s visual art and writings, but who have lived with it, danced with it,  and experienced it by obtaining access to Crookhey Hall, the mansion she lived in as a child. Spending weeks there they could commune physically, emotionally, and spiritually  with the living traces of her energy  that they could absorb by visiting the nooks and crannies,, the hidden secret places , the architecture and the birds imprinted on the windows, the stained glass, the atrium etc. for weeks of creation.   The dancers and the theatre troupe were deeply sensitive to her spirit, and they learned to yield to everything they imbibed as they left no stone unturned. We readers are present with them as they learned to yield to “dance with Leonora.”

In addition to essays about these explorations, we find poetry written in contemplation of her works and a short story and a paper inspired by her literary influence on contemporary writers. Here too are new analyses of DOWN BELOW, leading to expanded and intensely perceptive interpretations of the transformation from woman-child to woman-artist that she underwent during her internment in an asylum in Spain. They explore the special alchemy she lived through and even bring us the medical pronouncement of her psychiatrist that met with one of the scholars before he passed away. It was his conviction that she was not ‘mad” but that her breakdown was caused by a combination of circumstances, notably the war that had caused Max Ernst to be taken away leaving her alone to confront her situation on multiple levels.    

In all of the papers and creative works presented here, one feels the integrated balance of the mind, the heart and the body of these scholars and artists working in harmony to reach out to Leonora’s many worlds to deepen our understanding of her prescient wisdom. She taught us to remember that we are not above nature, but part of it, and in important essays about “The Hearing Trumpet,” a focus on aging women pierces through the bonds of patriarchy and other oppressive hierarchies and fills us with a love for all the creatures of the planet  who accompany Marion Leatherby , the protagonist on her final journey to Lapland, spreading the joy and hope that these non-human and hybrid avatars will leave a better legacy for Planet Earth than we have done. 

This volume is exciting, moving, and innovative as it balances the gravitas of the experiences in Leonora’s life history with the cautionary tales and surrealist humor that open a window for us on how she survived all forms of exclusion and suppression, through her belief that everything in our world is alive and sacred.

Gloria Orenstein,
Prof . Emerita , University of Southern California

The English born artist and writer Leonora Carrington (1917–2011) has received much critical acclaim and achieved stellar status in Mexico, where she lived and worked for most of her life, having fled Europe via Spain in tormenting circumstances. Leonora Carrington: Living Legacies brings together a collection of chapters that constitute a range of artistic, scholarly and creative responses to the realm of Carrington emphasizing how her work becomes a medium, a milieu, and a provocation for new thinking, being and imagining in the world. The diversity of contributions from scholars, early career researchers, and artists, include unpublished papers, interviews, creative provocations, and writing from practice-led interventions. Collectively they explore, question, and enable new ways of thinking with Carrington’s legacy.

Wishing to expand on recent important scholarly publications by established Carrington researchers which have brought historical and international significance to the artist’s legacy, this volume offers new perspectives on the artist’s relevance in feminist thinking and artistic methodologies.
Conscious of Carrington’s reluctance to engage in critical analysis of her artwork we have approached this scholarly task through a lens of give and return that the artist herself musingly articulates in her 1965 mock-manifesto Jezzamathatics: “I was decubing the root of a Hyperbollick Symposium … when the latent metamorphosis blurted the great unexpected shriek into something between a squeak and a smile. IT GAVE, so to speak, in order to return.” (Aberth, 2010:149). In adopting her playful conjecture, this publication seeks to bring Carrington and her work to further prominence.

List of Figures
Contributors and Editors

Foreword: Leonora’s Dépaysement
Gabriel Weisz Carrington
Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Mexico

Michelle Man with Ailsa Cox
Edge Hill University
James Hewison
Edge Hill University
Roger Shannon
Edge Hill University

Chapter 1 A Feminist Marvellous: Chloe Aridjis and the Female Human Animal
Catriona McAra
Leeds Arts University

Chapter 2 “I was in another place”: the liminal journey in Leonora Carrington’s Down Below
Alessia Zinnari
University of Glasgow

Chapter 3 Riding Along the Edge: the shifting subjectivities of Leonora Carrington’s hybrids
Tara Plunkett
University College Dublin

Chapter 4 Imaginarium: dancing with Carrington
James Hewison
Edge Hill University
Michelle Man
Edge Hill University

Chapter 5 Lucid Madness as Method? Surrealist style in Leonora Carrington’s Down Below
Andrea Gremels
Goethe-Universität Frankfurt

Chapter 6 Alchemical Adaptations: Performing Leonora Carrington’s The Hearing Trumpet
Jon Lee
London South Bank University
Georgina Sowerby
London South Bank University

Chapter 7 Leonora, the Battlefield
Julia Salmerón
Universidad Autonóma de Madrid, Spain

Chapter 8 Finding Leonora Carrington: A Collection of Poems
Penny Sharman

Chapter 9 Creativity and Women’s Time in the Work of Leonora Carrington
Alicia Kent
King's College London

Chapter 10 If These Walls Could Talk: Leonora Carrington’s Psycho-Spatial Rooms
Felicity Gee
University of Exeter

Chapter 11 Leonora, Fly! A story by Claire Dean
Claire Dean
Edge Hill University

Chapter 12 In Conversation with Gabriel Weisz Carrington


Professor Ailsa Cox is the only UK academic in the UK to hold a Professorship in Short Fiction. She is a much-published author and leads creative writing workshops on Carrington for postgraduate students.

Professor Roger Shannon, under the aegis of EHU’s Institute for Creative Enterprise (ICE) has generated extensive critical discussion around the screen showings of Josh Appignanesi’s film Female Human Animal (2018) and Teressa Griffith’s Leonora Carrington: the Lost Surrealist (2017). He hosted “In Conversation about Leonora Carrington” (2015) with the then Artistic Director of Tate Liverpool Francesco Manacorda and the journalist, writer and Carrington family member Joanna Moorhead.

Senior Lecturers James Hewison and Michelle Man’s choreographic work “Imaginarium” (2015), partly developed at Carrington’s childhood home in Lancashire, was premiered at the 2015 Tate exhibition and has since toured internationally.

Collectively the editors bring together their expertise from different fields of research creating a multi-faceted lens through which they have been able to develop, disseminate and promote what they identify in this volume as the vibrancy of Carrington’s living legacies, her cult status, as well as her historical importance within art and feminist writings. Their research activities and performances also contributed to the institution’s support for the Leonora Carrington: Transgressing Discipline exhibition at the Tate, Liverpool (2015).

Leonora Carrington, Susan Aberth, Posthumanism, Lancashire, Down Below, The Hearing Trumpet, intertextuality, Surrealism, marvellous, Feminism, liminality, hybrid, bodies, subjectivity, grotesque, female monster, choreography, theatre making, architecture, space and place