What contribution did women artists make during the Second World War? Why is their work not widely discussed or acknowledged? Join art historian Dr Alicia Foster as we explore the role of women artists, their contribution to the war effort, and the gendered power struggles that occurred and still occur. Using Foster’s novel Warpaint - which features Kenneth Clark as a character - as a starting point, we will delve into his position as Chairman of the War Artists Advisory Committee and what that meant for women artists.
Alicia Foster trained as an art historian before becoming a novelist. Her first novel Warpaint (Penguin, Figtree, 2013) tells the story of four women artists employed by the British government in 1942–3. Previous publications include a monograph drawing on her doctoral research, Gwen John (Tate/Princeton, 1999), and the first complete survey of women represented in Tate collections Tate Women Artists (Tate, 2004). Her next novel is set in the early 1920s in Yorkshire and will tell the story of a violent collision between the forces of modernity and reaction.