Stranded brings together Lisa O’Donnell’s figurative paintings which merge archival material with contemporary painting processes to carve out space in historical narratives pertaining to the lived experience of women. The paintings in this show are the result of research carried out at the archives of the House of Saint Barnabas housed at City of Westminster Archives Centre, focusing on the forgotten stories of the ex-servicewomen who used the services of the house after returning from duty during and following World War 2.
These women are documented in The House of Charity Annual Reports of 1947, stating that support was offered with The Auxiliary Territorial Service Benevolent Fund, aiding the WW2 women’s branch of the British Army. 802 beds were provided to “girls being released from the services finding difficulty in adapting themselves to new surroundings and were, in fact, in danger of being stranded.” The women were documented anonymously, leading O’Donnell to use anonymous images of servicewomen during WW2 from the archives of the Imperial War Museum and the archives of The National Army Museum to represent their stories.
These anonymous figures represent the widespread absences of women in history. The artist probes this silence by utilising painting strategies to explore and expand this investigation. This exhibition explores the history of the House and the enduring mission of supporting those at risk from social exclusion which ties the oft-forgotten past with the purpose of the House and charity today.
Lisa O’Donnell lives and works in London. Born in Ireland in 1986, she completed her BA Fine Art at The Centre for Creative Arts and Media, Galway (2010) and MA Fine Art at Central Saint Martins (2013). She has received numerous artist bursaries from Galway County Council Arts OBce, two Travel and Training Grants from the Arts Council of Ireland and a Culture Ireland grant for her 2015 exhibition at New York University.
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