press release

A Tale of Mother’s Bones: Grace Pailthorpe, Reuben Mednikoff and the Birth of Psychorealism
An exhibition of paintings, drawings and autobiographical ephemera paired with in-depth psychoanalytic interpretation.
06.10.2018 - 20.01.2019

Dr Grace Pailthorpe (surgeon/ psychoanalyst / artist, 1883-1971) and Reuben Mednikoff (artist, 1906-1972) began collaborating in 1935. From that year until their deaths, they produced a huge body of work that included startlingly vivid and wildly experimental paintings and drawings, often paired with in-depth psychoanalytic interpretation, as well as autobiography, poetry and short stories. They spent decades of their lives researching how the visual and literary arts might liberate individuals and societies from the constraints that sickened and impoverished them, together developing a creative process that combined Surrealism with psychoanalysis, bringing artistic and scientific thinking together.

The work of Pailthorpe and Mednikoff is still relatively unknown, and A Tale of Mother’s Bones will be the most significant presentation of their work in almost 20 years. Drawing on original archival research, it will tell the story of the couple’s lives through their works, showing how they excavated their earliest memories (including memories of birth) in order to understand their adult relationships, critical reception, political context, and spiritual beliefs. The exhibition will reinstate the couple within the artistic and intellectual histories they contributed to, and will reveal a new term developed by the pair: Psychorealism.

The exhibition brings together painting, drawing, writing and biographical ephemera. It is curated by Dr Hope Wolf, Lecturer in Modernism and Co-Director of the Centre for Modernist Studies at the University of Sussex with Rosie Cooper, Head of Exhibitions at the De La Warr Pavilion, Martin Clark, Director, Camden Arts Centre, and Gina Buenfeld, Curator, Camden Arts Centre.

A Tale of Mother’s Bones: Grace Pailthorpe, Reuben Mednikoff and the Birth of Psychorealism, De La Warr Pavilion, 6 October 2018 – 20 January 2019, and Camden Arts Centre, 12 April – 23 June 2019.