The Merry Maidens


The Merry Maidens series is inspired by a neolithic stone circle on the road to Lands End in Cornwall which is said to represent 19 maidens who were turned to stone as a punishment for dancing on a Sunday.

The story of these women made me think about how, throughout the history of visual culture, beautiful women have so often been stilled and in effect or reality turned to stone (the iconic images of early Hollywood stars with their chiaroscuro lighting for instance). These frozen images of women are less troublesome than real women - they have been silenced and made into unreal ideals.

I have used images of young women from a wide range of sources to make the paintings and given each one a name from the list of the current most popular baby names.


The Merry Maidens installed at The Blind Spot, Swindon Museum & Art Gallery, September 2017

In 2023 Matt Price acquired a number of the The Merry Maidens paintings for Anomie Collections. In an accompaning publication he wrote,

'I first encountered the paintings when they were exhibited at Swindon Museum and Art Gallery in autumn that year. It was a solo show titled The Blind Spot, which I reviewed for the first volume of The Anomie Review of Contemporary British Painting in 2018. The series is called ‘The Merry Maidens’ and was inspired by a journey the artist made to Cornwall during which she encountered a neolithic stone circle that is said to represent nineteen young women turned to stone as punishment for dancing on the sabbath. These striking and unusual portraits are somewhere between the kind of headshots you might find in a school yearbook and ancient sculptural busts – women petrified by the patriarchy then painted back into womanhood, given some degree of posthumous agency.'

The Blind Spot        

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