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A print from Suzanne Bellamy’s “Virginia Woolf Series”

Tributes to Suzanne Bellamy, artist, writer, scholar, Australian feminist pioneer, and quintessential free spirit, are flooding social media and email inboxes since she passed away early on June 20 in her native Australia.

Conferences and art

I didn’t know Suzanne well, though many Virginia Woolf scholars did. I met her in 2007 at the 17th Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf at Miami University of Ohio. I was a newbie to Woolf studies, and it was my first conference.

Suzanne had a table of her artwork at that event, as she often did, and that year she was right across the aisle from Cecil Woolf, whom I had just met for the first time. I must have said something that indicated I was a Woolf novice, because in her own inimitable fashion, Suzanne made sure that I knew exactly to whom I was speaking — THE Cecil Woolf!

Suzanne had a generous spirit. In 2011, she wrote a post for this blog that explained her painting “Woolf and the Chaucer Horse,” which she created for the 21st Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf. Over the years, she gave me many prints of her art that featured Woolf. One of them, that I framed and hung in my home, is pictured above. I plan to frame more.

Scholar, artist, feminist, and more

Suzanne was a published scholar of both Woolf and Gertrude Stein. But she was much more than that. She was an essayist. She worked in visual music and abstraction and lesbian modernism. Her work also included word jazz and ecology and water, according to her website.

Her first large solo U.S. show was at the Northampton Center for the Arts in Massachusetts in May/June 2003, and she was artist in residence at Smith College during the 2003 International Virginia Woolf Conference.

In London at the 2004 conference, she was a featured presenter with a jazz visual text improvisation called “Am I Blue?.” This was her scat word and visual painting interpretation of three Woolf experimental short fictions about war with large canvas paintings as set.

In 1969, Suzanne was also part of the first group of Women’s Liberation in Sydney. She taught Women’s Studies and Politics at Macquarie University from 1974 to 1980, a period she called “the great feminist years.” She was National Convenor of the First Women and Labour Conference in 1978 and she worked on all three Australian Women’s Commissions.

Below is just one of the many tributes to Suzanne that has been shared. This one was sent by Benjamin Hagen, president of the International Virginia Woolf Society. It is based on information shared by Suzanne’s dear friend, collaborator, and fellow Woolf scholar Elisa Kay Sparks.

Tribute from Ben Hagen, president of IVWS

I write now, however, with the sad news that Suzanne Bellamy, a friend and spiritual traveling companion to so many in the international Woolf community, passed away peacefully a little after midnight, this past Monday morning, Australian time.

Suzanne was particularly delighted that she had been able to participate in a panel at this year’s Woolf conference with Elisa Kay Sparks, Davi Pinho, and Maria Oliveira. Those of us who attended that virtual panel were struck by the power of the work she shared with us that day.

Though very ill, she was able to stay at home until last Wednesday. She was “completely present,” a friend reports, until Saturday, discussing lists of people to notify and what to do about artwork, etc. before she slipped into a quiet coma from which she did not wake up.

Suzanne was born 22 September 1948. Her friends in Australia are making sure that her property is secured and her artwork taken care of, fulfilling the requests in her will. They will gather together for a major celebration of Suzanne’s life in September, around her birthday and the solstice. As some of you know, much of Suzanne’s work—journals, artworks, and films about the Australian women’s movement—have already been sorted and placed in the Australian National Archives.

On behalf of the IVWS, I send condolences to all members who knew Suzanne, treasured her friendship and guidance, and benefited from the light she brought with her wherever she traveled. To those who did not know Suzanne, I hope you will have a chance in the coming weeks and months and years to learn about her artwork, her Woolf scholarship, her political activism, her goodness, her power, and her love.

Tribute from Claire Nicholson, chair, Virginia Woolf Society of Great Britain

On behalf of all members of the Virginia Woolf Society of Great Britain, I’d like to extend our deep condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of Suzanne Bellamy. An inspiring artist and scholar, Suzanne was an unforgettable presence at  International Virginia Woolf Conferences. Her artistic vision, wide-ranging knowledge and warm sense of humour livened up many conference proceedings and she was held in real affection by Woolfians from all over the world. She will be much missed indeed, but leaves a wonderful legacy of her work which will be enjoyed for many years to come. Rest in peace, Suzanne.

“Woolf and the Chaucer Horse” by Suzanne Bellamy

 

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Let’s pretend Virginia Woolf is sending us all a Christmas card. And what could be more appropriate than this card by renowned collage artist Amanda White?

It features Woolf at home at a snow-covered Monk’s House in Lewes.

Monk’s House Welcome Home

Read more about Virginia Woolf and Christmas

 

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So many wonderful events, performances, and exhibits related to the Bloomsbury Group take place in England. Here is another I wish I could view — and it’s free. “Beyond Bloomsbury: Life, Love and Legacy,” an exhibit that chronicles the “lives, loves and work” of the group opens at the Millennium Gallery of the Sheffield Museums Nov. 25 and runs until Feb. 13, 2022.

The Vanessa Bell portrait of Leonard Woolf that graces the cover of his biography by Victoria Glendinning is just one of the Bloomsbury Group portraits included in the exhibit.

Curated through a partnership between Sheffield Museums, York Museums Trust and the National Portrait Gallery, the exhibition includes portraits of those who were intimately associated with the Bloomsbury Group, along with their peripheral friends and colleagues.

More than 140 works

Beyond Bloomsbury brings together more than 140 paintings, sculpture, works on paper and supporting material to celebrate key figures, including Virginia Woolf and Vanessa Bell. Most of the portraits included in the exhibit are informal and intimate.

It include paintings by Bell, Dora Carrington, Roger Fry and Duncan Grant, sculpture by Marcel Gimmond and Stephen Tomlin, and drawings and photographs by Cecil Beaton, George Charles Beresford, Lady Ottoline Morrell and John Nash.

Get introduced at a tour

The gallery is offering two free lunchtime tours to introduce viewers to the exhibit. Titled “Beyond Bloomsbury,” they will be held from 1-1:45 p.m. on Dec. 7 and Dec. 14.

Sheffield Museums are located at Arundel Gate, Sheffield S1 2PP.

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Have we killed the self-sacrificing Angel in the House? If an exhibit by photographer Lanie McNulty is to be believed, the answer is no.

Virginia Woolf advocated for such a death. In “Professions for Women” read to the Women’s Service League in 1931 and published posthumously in The Death of the Moth and Other Essays (1942), she wrote that “Killing the Angel in the House was part of the occupation of a woman writer.”

A woman writer, she believed, had to kill off the respectable Victorian “angel,” popularized by Coventry Patmore in his 1858 poem. The angel, an ideal woman who lives to serve others, particularly males, neglects her own personal needs and certainly never considers herself to have any professional aspirations.

Pandemic forces women into angel roles

McNulty, a New York based photographer and social activist, was inspired by the current pandemic to turn her lens on domestic interiors. In doing so, she produced stunning photographs that depict women at home alone and with children, husbands, parents, and friends.

Created in collaboration with her subjects, McNulty’s photographs starkly expose what the pandemic year has made clearer than ever — that women play an outsized role trying to keep it all together. Her photos make up the exhibit “The Angel in the House.”

McNulty is not the first to make a play on the death of the angel for an artistic purpose. A literary journal titled Killing the Angel (pictured above) launched in 2013 but now appears to be defunct.

Exhibit and book

Now on display at New York’s Planthouse, The Angel in the House opened today and runs through Oct. 23 by appointment.

If you can’t make it to the exhibit, you can buy the book.

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Tomorrow, Jan. 25, is Virginia Woolf’s birthday. And you can celebrate by joining a conversation about her life and work between the late Cecil Woolf, nephew of Leonard and Virginia, and his wife Jean Moorcroft Wilson.

Filmed in 2015, the light-hearted conversation between the publisher and the noted author of biographer of World War I poets is being held to celebrate Virginia’s 139th birthday as well as to publicize the on-going campaign to honor her with a statue.

The online event runs from 2 to 2:50 p.m. EST and you can purchase a ticket for £3.83 on Eventbrite.

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