Helen's Pics

From the Venus of Willendorf to the photography of gender bending artist Claude Cahun, Executive Assistant Helen's selection is a celebration of all things female.



What is your role at Bridgeman?

I am actually divided into two roles: I am executive assistant to Harriet Bridgeman, who is founder and chair of the company, and I also work as a researcher for sister-company the Artists’ Collecting Society (ACS). Providing administrative support to the Chairperson of the company involves making diary and travel arrangements, as well as editorial work. As my job title with ACS suggests, this side of my role is research based! I research into artists who are owed royalties from their work selling on the secondary market, plus I assist with marketing and events organisation.

What do you love most about the job?

As I work for two different companies, my role is very varied.  I really enjoy that in a day I could be doing any number of different tasks. Sometimes I’ll work with the archive – which is a real pleasure as I studied History of Art at university and it is a passion of mine – or perhaps I will be drafting a speech that Harriet is giving. It’s also great to work so closely with Harriet, who has been well established in the art world for many decades and so I have had the opportunity to learn a lot from her.

What misconceptions do clients commonly have about the archive?

Clients may assume that the archive only holds images of paintings that were created hundreds of years ago. However, there is in fact a huge variety of images of cultural objects, contemporary artworks, and photography, as well as an entire footage archive, and I hope that my selection reflects this!

Helen Walker, Executive Assistant to Harriet Bridgeman, and ACS researcher


The Venus of Willendorf, Fertility Symbol, Pre-Historic sculpture, 30000-25000 BC (front view) / Naturhistorisches Museum, Vienna, Austria / Ali Meyer





The Venus of Willendorf

I find it so interesting that even in around 30,000 BCE someone had the creative drive to carve this little figure out of limestone. There are many theories about the intentions of creator of this artefact, my favourite being that this is a self-portrait by a woman celebrating her body and the exaggerated proportions are because she was looking down at herself, the only means she had of viewing her body in the Stone Age!




Claude Cahun

Claude Cahun is probably my favourite artist. Not only was Cahun’s questioning of what it means to be male or female and experimentation with gender fluidity way before her time, but also it resulted in the most arresting self-portraits. On top of that she was incredibly courageous; Cahun and her partner Marcel Moore were arrested for producing and disseminating anti-Nazi fliers in German-occupied Jersey.

 Self portrait, 1927 (b/w photo), Claude Cahun (1894-1954) / Jersey Heritage Trust, UK


The Garden of Earthly Delights, 1490-1500 (oil on panel) , Hieronymous Bosch (c.1450-1516) / Prado, Madrid, Spain





The Garden of Earlthy Delights, by Hieronymus Bosch

I’m not even sure where to start with this one - there is just so much going on, and most of it is pretty weird. It’s fascinating how Bosch chose to express his judgement of 15th century society’s sinful lasciviousness in this surreal and highly detailed triptych. Every time I look at this work I seem to notice a new bizarre detail.




Barbara Kruger

I have always been interested in how Barbara Kruger’s work addresses the cultural construction of power, identity and sexuality in a way that continues to be relevant, and in a style that is that is both instantly recognisable and incredibly influential. Plus she is associated with a pretty inspirational group of postmodern feminist artists!

Untitled (You are Not Yourself), 1983 (black and white photograph in artist's frame), Barbara Kruger (b.1945) / Private Collection / Photo © Christie's Images


 A woman with very long black hair standing in a studio setting with a house behind her, 1920 (duotone print), French School, (20th century) / Private Collection / © Galerie Bilderwel





French erotic photography

My final essay as a postgraduate was concerning the birth of erotic photography in Paris in the late 18th and early 20th century and I was surprised by how useful Bridgeman’s archive was in my research. I find it so interesting how society’s notions of the lewd have changed so much – both photographer and model had to remain anonymous for fear of being imprisoned for indecency!  




Frida Kahlo

Another female artist with an iconic and instantly recognisable style! I find Kahlo’s work so engaging as not only is it aesthetically pleasing, but it is such a moving expression of her sense of self in relation to her lifelong medical problems. And in addition to being a supremely talented artist, Kahlo was politically engaged – a true icon!

Self-Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird, 1940 (oil on canvas), Kahlo, Frida (1907-54) / Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, USA



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