Angela Carter is one of the most important writers of the twentieth century, renowned for her dazzling imagination and radical creativity. Whilst living in Bristol for most of the 1960s, she took a degree in English Literature, started writing novels, played folk music and took art classes.
To commemorate 25 years since her death in 1992, Marie Mulvey-Roberts and Fiona Robinson curated a major art exhibition at the Royal West of England Academy in Bristol, Strange Worlds: The Vision of Angela Carter, which attracted over 11,000 visitors. The challenge was how to convey the extraordinary impact of her writing through images. Carter is a highly visual writer who explained that her writing method was ‘always to think first in images, and then grope for the words’. The curators set out to create a dialogue between image and word and throw new light onto her legacy. In the exhibition catalogue, Carmen Callil, her former editor at Virago Press, brings artist and author together in a moving tribute to her friend as, ‘clever as the paint she loved, but taking it all further, leaving behind a lasting canvas, painted in words.’ The influence of artists on Carter and the way in which certain contemporary artists ran parallel to her writing was presented in the show through the work of over 60 artists ranging from Matisse, Holman Hunt, Paula Rego and Ana Maria Pacheco. This talk will reflect on the processes involved in curating an exhibition on a celebrated local writer.