Pin It
Nooka Shepherd, Wyrd Night (2023)
Nooka Shepherd, Wyrd Night (2023)Courtesy of Nooka Shepherd

This exhibition traces the relationship between witchcraft and Surrealism

Leonora Carrington, Paula Rego, and more feature in LAMB Gallery’s exploration of the witch as a potent symbol for women artists, past and present

It’s no coincidence that the Surrealist movement emerged out of the chaos of the early 20th century, in a post-war world where thinkers like Sigmund Freud were rewriting what we knew about the links between the mind and the body. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the movement has stayed the course, either. It continues to resonate as life grows weirder by the day and we continue to pull back the curtain on the myths and mechanisms behind reality, dreams, and the human minds that pull them together.

There’s another, more magic-tinged explanation that’s stuck around through the ages to explain the oddities at the edge of our dreams and reality, though. Witchcraft. From the witch trials of early modern Europe and America, to the resurgence of occult practices online, witchcraft has been tied up with our attempts to explain the unusual happenings in the world around us, especially from a feminist (or, historically, gruesomely anti-feminist) angle, for as long as we can remember.

Now, a new show at London’s LAMB Gallery aims to shine a spotlight on the connections between these two perspectives, with a show aptly titled Surrealism and Witchcraft.

Featuring Leonora Carrington’s series of chic witch hats as a starting point, the exhibition also features paintings from the likes of Paula Rego and Tali Lennox, charting women artists’ involvement in the (often male-dominated) Surrealist movement, which frequently involved drawing on the figure of the witch. Other artists whose work is on show include Alma Berrow, Bea Bonafini, Leonora Carrington, Harriet Gillet, Arianne Hughes, Tali Lennox, Paula Rego, Nooka Shepherd, Paula Turmina, Sophie von Hellermann and Georg Wilson.

Across a variety of mediums, also including ceramics, sculptures and installations, Surrealism and Witchcraft specifically hones in on the ironic Freudian symbolism of witchcraft (see: flying around with a great big broom poking out between your legs), and how this has echoed throughout the history of Surrealism and female art.

Take a closer look at some of the artworks featured in the exhibition in the gallery above.

Surrealism and Witchcraft is open now at LAMB Gallery, and runs until December 20.

Join Dazed Club and be part of our world! You get exclusive access to events, parties, festivals and our editors, as well as a free subscription to Dazed for a year. Join for £5/month today.