02 November 2011

Sylvia Plath Exhibit Opens in London

The Mayor Gallery exhibit of "Sylvia Plath's Drawings" opens today at their space at 22A Cork Street in London. Containing 44 drawings, this is the first British exhibition of Plath's artwork.  In the "Current" section of their website, it is possible to view all 44 drawings. Bravo!

In 2002 at the Sylvia Plath 70th Year Symposium held at Indiana University, many of Plath's creations were exhibited from the collections of both Smith College and Indiana University.

Yesterday, Matilda Battersby of the Indpendent wrote "Unseen Sylvia Plath Drawings Go on Show." The page containing the article has been loading painfully slowly, so your patience is I'm sure appreciated.


Julia Gordon-Bramer said...

Thanks for the link to all 44! That's wonderful!

Peter K Steinberg said...

You're welcome, but I totally lied as there are only 43 online. The first one in the last row on the first page isn't a Plath image. Probably a mistake.

THE DRAWINGS ARE ALL FOR SALE! Most have sold already, no surprise.


Kristina Zimbakova said...

Sorry for being outrageously rude but Frieda is out of her mind to sell those pieces.

Kristina Zimbakova said...

P.S. Understandably, unless Smith or Lily Library or any uni has purchased them.

Peter K Steinberg said...

It is doubtful they'll end up directly from this gallery sale into the archives. Probably collectors and book/arts dealers are largely those that can afford these precious items. It'll be interesting when the exhibit goes down in December to see which ones do appear on the market for sale. So, anyone lucky enough to see the exhibit: take it in! It's likely the only time these will ever be assembled together in one place!

There is a catalogue for sale.


Melanie Smith said...

I wonder what the price range is for remaining pieces? Have sent an enquiry.

Annika said...

I'm hope I'll be able to visit this exhibition tomorrow, very excited!

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised, too, that the drawings are for sale and think it's a real shame that Frieda didn't bequeath them or sell them to an archive (e.g. at Smith College, Emory Uni or Cambridge Uni) where researchers and the interested public could still view them and where they could have been be used within the scope of further research into Plath.

This way, they'll probably disappear into private collections and scatter around the globe.


Peter K Steinberg said...

Annika! How's Oxford? Do let us know how you find the exhibit!

~VC, my fear is the book dealers, many of whom I admire, will price these well out of consideration for libraries and archives to obtain them. That's the way it works though. I think it would be very important to see these, to be redundant to my previous comment, as it is likely the only time they'll be displayed together ever. Sounds dramatic...but it's true.


Anonymous said...

I will post some of my previous comments about the sale of Plath's art work. I went to the gallery on Friday, I live in London, and was shocked to see them nearly all sold. They could have gone on tour as a collection or they could have been sold to Smith College, or the Lilly Library. Plath's drawings are utterly amazing and reveal so much about her creative process; her fine attention to detail and the way that a simple object, like an umbrella, can become something full of nuance with each crease and shade subtly integrated for a seamless effect.

Previous postings: I went to the gallery today and unfortunately and tragically this unique collection of Plath's wonderful drawings are being sold off, it appears to separate bidders. Most have already sold for about £4000 each. This is not a public gallery, it is a private one that earns commission for selling artwork. Instead of Plath's detailed and beautifully rendered drawings being kept as a whole collection as they should be, they are being splintered apart, just as her first collection of Ariel was, and probably will not be seen again by the public. I can't understand why her daughter chose to sell her mother's drawings at all, they could have toured many public galleries and the interest would have been acute. And why not at least give first refusal to Smith College or Lilly Library which hold extensive archives on Plath? This is really a terrible loss both for the academic world and to all of Plath's fans. Her artwork gives great insight to how she creates an artistic piece, bit it visual or poetic, the detail, the shading, the focus and subtlety are all aspects of her perceptual process. There are two drawings left, if anyone wants to buy them before they disappear for good. AL

I also went to Frieda Hughes's readings/presentation at the Cambridge Ideas Festival on Saturday 29th October in which slides of her large canvases were shown whilst she read her poems. The point of the multi-media presentation was that art and poems are complementary, so why she has chosen to sever the tie between her mother's artwork and poetry is a very poignant question. It seems unnecessary from a financial point of view, as she receives regular Royalties from book sales and has had grant money of significant amounts to carry out her own commissioned projects. The fragmentation of Plath's art work is a huge loss to the artistic and literary communities and it makes one question how much control a single family member should have over a world renowned artist's work and documents. AL

Peter K Steinberg said...

Thank you AL for cross posting your comments, I hope that visitors to this blog who may have missed them in the other post find them here.


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Publications & Acknowledgements

  • BBC Four.A Poet's Guide to Britain: Sylvia Plath. London: BBC Four, 2009. (Acknowledged in)
  • Biography: Sylvia Plath. New York: A & E Television Networks, 2005. (Photographs used)
  • Connell, Elaine. Sylvia Plath: Killing the angel in the house. 2d ed. Hebden Bridge: Pennine Pens, 1998. (Acknowledged in)
  • Crowther, Gail and Peter K. Steinberg. "These Ghostly Archives." Plath Profiles 2. Summer 2009: 183-208.
  • Crowther, Gail and Peter K. Steinberg. "These Ghostly Archives, Redux." Plath Profiles 3. Summer 2010: 232-246.
  • Crowther, Gail and Peter K. Steinberg. "These Ghostly Archives 3." Plath Profiles 4. Summer 2011: 119-138.
  • Crowther, Gail and Peter K. Steinberg. "These Ghostly Archives 4: Looking for New England." Plath Profiles 5. Summer 2012: 11-56.
  • Crowther, Gail and Peter K. Steinberg. "These Ghostly Archives 5: Reanimating the Past." Plath Profiles 6. Summer 2013: 27-62.
  • Crowther, Gail and Peter K. Steinberg. These Ghostly Archives: The Unearthing of Sylvia Plath. Oxford: Fonthill, 2017. Forthcoming.
  • Death Be Not Proud: The Graves of Poets. New York: Poets.org. (Photographs used)
  • Doel, Irralie, Lena Friesen and Peter K. Steinberg. "An Unacknowledged Publication by Sylvia Plath." Notes & Queries 56:3. September 2009: 428-430.
  • Gill, Jo. "Sylvia Plath in the South West." University of Exeter Centre for South West Writing, 2008. (Photograph used)
  • Elements of Literature, Third Course. Austin, Tex. : Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 2009. (Photograph used)
  • Helle, Anita Plath. The Unraveling Archive: Essays on Sylvia Plath. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2007. (Photographs used, acknowledged in)
  • Helle, Anita. "Lessons from the Archive: Sylvia Plath and the Politics of Memory". Feminist Studies 31:3. Fall 2005: 631-652.. (Acknowledged in)
  • Holden, Constance. "Sad Poets' Society." Science Magazine. 27 July 2008. (Photograph used)
  • Making Trouble: Three Generations of Funny Jewish Women, Motion Picture. Directed by Rachel Talbot. Brookline (Mass.): Jewish Women's Archive, 2007. (Photograph used)
  • Plath, Sylvia, and Karen V. Kukil. The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath, 1950-1962. New York: Anchor Books, 2000. (Acknowledged in)
  • Plath, Sylvia, and Peter K. Steinberg and Karen V. Kukil (eds.). The Letters of Sylvia Plath. London: Faber, 2017. Forthcoming.
  • Plath, Sylvia. Glassklokken. Oslo: De norske Bokklubbene, 2004. (Photograph used on cover)
  • Reiff, Raychel Haugrud. Sylvia Plath: The Bell Jar and Poems (Writers and Their Works). Marshall Cavendish Children's Books, 2008.. (Images provided)
  • Steinberg, Peter K. Sylvia Plath (Great Writers). Philadelphia: Chelsea House Publishers, 2004.
  • Steinberg, Peter K. "'I Should Be Loving This': Sylvia Plath's 'The Perfect Place' and The Bell Jar." Plath Profiles 1. Summer 2008: 253-262.
  • Steinberg, Peter K. "Sylvia Plath." The Spoken Word: Sylvia Plath. London: British Library, 2010.
  • Steinberg, Peter K. "'They Had to Call and Call': The Search for Sylvia Plath." Plath Profiles 3. Summer 2010: 106-132.
  • Steinberg, Peter K. "This is a Celebration: A Festschrift for The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath." Plath Profiles 3 Supplement. Fall 2010: 3-14.
  • Steinberg, Peter K. "A Perfectly Beautiful Time: Sylvia Plath at Camp Helen Storrow." Plath Profiles 4. Summer 2011: 149-166.
  • Steinberg, Peter K. "Proof of Plath." Fine Books & Collections 9:2. Spring 2011: 11-12.
  • Steinberg, Peter K. "Textual Variations in The Bell Jar Publications." Plath Profiles 5. Summer 2012.
  • Steinberg, Peter K. "Writing Life" [Introduction]. Sylvia Plath in Devon: A Year's Turning. Stroud, Eng.: Fonthill Media, 2014.