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Murray Edwards College
University of Cambridge

Charlotte Hodes: a special gem known to discerning people

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    18 Sep

    Charlotte Hodes is Professor of Fine Art at the London College of Fashion. She exhibits regularly both nationally and internationally, including at the Venice Biennale in 20009.  Her work is represented in many public collections including the Victoria and Albert Museum and the

    For Charlotte, the New Hall Art Collection is a “special gem” a secret known to discerning people.  “Unique”, since it is not a museum collection but a place where people live, study and work surrounded by art. It is a young collection, with most of the works by living artists, but also a “very important collection”, an “archive” of women’s art.

    Charlotte trained in fine art and studied painting as a postgraduate at the Slade, where she took issue with “men’s linear narrative about art history.  She moved to the London College of Fashion, University of the Arts, London where she was appointed Professor in Fine Art in 2012.

    Charlotte was an early contributor to the Collection with her monumental work “Constellations” painted in 1992 and presented to the Collection in 1996.  The reclining woman is typical of her work, since Charlotte “uses the female figure as a disruptive force”. It is also a herald of her move into collage, papercuts and ceramics.

    In Grammar of Ornament, an exhibition of her work, held at the College in 2014, Charlotte showed a series of 37 papercuts and a set of limited edition plates, created in response to Owen Jones’s 1856 treatise on ornament and form in architecture, Grammar of Ornament. She had been making collages since 1989, when she began to cut up her paintings in an explosion of frustration at how motherhood left her so little time for work! But realised that what she was doing had potential and that paper was full of possibilities.

    In 1998 Charlotte had embarked on a series of projects at the Spode factory in Staffordshire where she discovered their vast archive of tissue transfer copper engravings. She saw the ceramic ware as blank ‘canvases’ and began to make one-off pieces using their historical engravings as collage material.

    In 2018, the New Hall Art Collection became the recipient of three vases made by Charlotte which are displayed at the entrance to the main walkway through Murray Edwards College. Charlotte worked with ceramicist, Jo Davies, a Royal College of Art graduate, who made the basic shapes of the vases, onto which Charlotte applied her imagery. She used hand cut paper stencils to create patterns through which she applied coloured slips, onto the surfaces of the vases. Sprigs, little decorative objects, were added.  After glazing and firing, hand cut decal silk screen transfers were added to complete the layered patterned imagery.

    In 2006 Charlotte was awarded the Jerwood Drawing Prize, in 2009 she exhibited at the 53rd International Venice Biennale, and in 2012 featured in an exhibition at No.10 Downing Street curated by Janice Blackburn.

    Charlotte has been extraordinarily generous in the works she has given to the New Hall Art Collection. She is “thrilled to be part of the collection”, to have her work “amongst that of other women artists in a woman’s college”. She feels the Collection is “still little known, with much potential –which is why it is so close to my heart.”