This is a mouvementé book. The narrative constantly moves you on from one artist to the next and gathers pace towards the end, hectically throwing up further names and information. But the author’s enjoyment of her topic carries through. Given the current atttention to women’s art, Trant’s work will certainly generate much interest and point readers in new directions.
a survey of art by women who have largely been forgotten; their lives are cleverly interwoven in the book with those of their better-known contemporaries. Trant shows us their struggle for recognition, and to establish a balance between art and domestic life, as well as the sustaining relationships and friendships forged between women. Voyaging Out offers a powerful and important corrective to historical accounts that continue to draw on the same small pool of participants. Trant discusses fascinating artists drawn from across the spectrum of British modernism, including Gluck, Madge Gill, Marlow Moss, Laura Knight, Barbara Jones, Enid Marx, Ithell Colquhoun, Nina Hamnett, Doris Hatt, Helen Lessore and Barbara Hepworth.
Trant’s book is diligent, detailed and full of surprises: everyone is here, from the still celebrated (Sybil Andrews, Vanessa Bell, Barbara Hepworth) to the little known and the almost completely forgotten (Catherine Giles, Ithell Colquhoun, Cecile Walton). She pays attention not only to these women’s lives and work – carefully balancing the two – but makes room, too, for their weirdnesses and quirks: here are occultists and outsiders, crafters and cross-dressers... Inevitably, a book like this is unsatisfying to a degree. Trant set herself a huge task in covering such a long period of time, one that takes in two wars. Occasionally, her narrative has the feeling of a list; sometimes she tells when she should show [...] [b]ut it also sends you away determined to find out more... In this sense, Voyaging Out bulges with hope for the future: for more research, for more books and, above all, for more inclusive and wide-reaching shows.