Exhibited: 50/50; Fifty British Women Artists 1900 ‚Äì 1950, Worshipful Company of Mercers (3rd December 2018 – 23rd March, 2019); The Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery, University of Leeds (9th April, 2019 – 27th July, 2019).
The clothes worn by the figure leaning awkwardly against a wall are
not those of an office clerk but of a member of the working classes. The
garments look crumpled and worn and somewhat too large for their
wearer’s slim frame. The sturdy lace-up shoes seem too long. Yellow
flashes of waistcoat poke out from underneath a brown jacket, but there
is no cravat, perhaps not even a shirt, the neck being protected by a scarf
instead. Maybe this alludes to the kingsman: the brightly coloured silk
handkerchief that served costermongers as necktie. The pony and cart
visible in the distance suggest that it is indeed a coster lad we have before
us. Or is it? The impossibly thin leashes attached to the collars of the two
whippets ‚Äì further indicators of working class membership ‚Äì lead to an
incongruously delicate, long-fingered hand. What should be a flat cap
is bulging, probably from the attempt to hide inappropriately long hair.
For it is the artist herself, Madeline Green, an anterior Cindy Sherman,
who is looking at us. Green used variations of this disguise in several of
her paintings and prints, sometimes exchanging the striped scarf for one
made of black and white check. The fabric features in many of her works,
fashioned into accessories, forming part of curtains, laying discarded on
pieces of furniture or on the floor, not unlike the mysterious object (a
blanket?) lying in the foreground to the left-hand side.
Commentary by Beatrice Behlen, Senior Curator of Fashion & Decorative Arts at the Museum of London.