Coming soon: A Woman’s Place at Knole

Oil painting on canvas, Victoria (Vita) Mary Sackville-West, Lady Nicolson (1892-1962) by Philip Alexius de László de Lombos

Encounter the work of six contemporary artists throughout the house and grounds at Knole from Thursday 17 May to Sunday 4 November 2018. A Woman’s Place will highlight the evolution of equality through the stories of women who have contributed to Knole’s spirit and history.

During 2018 the National Trust will commemorate the 100 year anniversary of the Representation of the People Act, which gave some women the right to vote in the UK for the first time. Women and Power is an exciting and ambitious programme of events, exhibitions and interpretation that seeks to shine a light on the often untold stories of women who have shaped our special places.

Women’s rights and the rules of inheritance impacted significantly on those who have lived at Knole, due to the familial tradition of passing the 600-year-old house to the male heir.

Vita Sackville-West’s distress at being unable to inherit her family home is woven into the very fabric of Knole and was immortalised at the pen of Virginia Woolf in Orlando. However, many other women’s stories at Knole have remained largely hidden, until now.

" Knole is denied to me for ever, through a technical fault over which we have no control."
-  Vita Sackville-West (The Edwardians, 1930)

From the complex mother/daughter relationship between Victoria and Vita Sackville-West to heart-wrenching extracts from the letters of Anne Clifford and Frances Cranfield, as well as the silent presence of laundress Grace Robinson who laboured behind the scenes at Knole, A Woman’s Place will bring these untold stories to the fore and raise important questions around ownership, relationships, class and gender identity.

Six women artists will interpret these themes and give a voice to some of Knole’s fascinating women through different media. The contemporary art installations will include sculpture, film, sound, performance, a website and interventions across this historic site, providing a pause to reflect on the fight for equality, its hard won battles and those undoubtedly still ahead of us.

Vita's 'technical fault' of being a woman will be examined in Alice May Williams's digital work
Vita's 'technical fault' of being a woman will be examined in Alice May Williams's digital work

The artists taking part are CJ Mahony, Lindsay Seers, Emily Speed, Alice May Williams, Melanie Wilson and 2017 Turner Prize winner Lubaina Himid. A Woman’s Place is curated by Day + Gluckman.