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Claire Partington is a British artist whose ceramic figures draw deeply on the history of art to explore themes of feminism and power.
Her serie 'Magdalena's' features two new groups of works: one of saints, one of sinners. In both, Claire looks to instances of inspirational female figures from art history and rejuvenates them with references to contemporary society. Her sinners are based on medieval images of Mary Magdalena, the ostracised female used by the church to represent the sinful nature of women, who then became covered in hair as a hermit. Claire’s Magdalena's trace a connection between this and current positions on body hair in feminism. In both groups, Claire revives ancient images of strong women, the unjustly condemned and the divinely revered, and articulates them as 21st century females, figures of power and independence.
Delila and Samson is a reversal of the Biblical story about hair and strength and Samson was a common dog name in the UK. The hair of Afghan hound merges with the female figure’s hair. Delilah and Samson, The Goose Girl and the magdalene tiles are part of a bigger series of works all based on the depiction of Mary Magdalene in Art History and at the fetishisation and control of women's hair in fairy stories and popular culture. The figures of this series by Claire Partington are similar in scale to 16th century German carvings of Magdalene figures.