After studying sculpture at Birmingham and Chelsea School of Arts, Rose Garrard received a British Council Scholarship in 1970 to the esteemed Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris, and she also won the Prix d’Honneur De Paris, the Gold Medal for Sculpture. Through pioneering installation, video, performance and multimedia art, Garrard has raised awareness of lost and invisible histories of women artists, reclaiming their place in the art world.
In 1983, Garrard created Models Triptych for a solo exhibition titled Frameworks at the Lewis Johnstone Gallery, London, later shown at the Tate. Madonna Cascade is one of three works which recreate self-portraits by women artists who were once highly regarded, but fell into posthumous obscurity. Flaccid Guns depicts the Italian Baroque painter Artemisia Gentileschi, while Bird Talk portrays the French portrait painter Elizabeth Vigee Le Brun. Madonna Cascade shows Judith Leyster, the Dutch Golden Age painter, holding her paintbrush and palette, framed by cascading plaster figurines of the Virgin and Child.
In a demonstration of ‘the personal as political,’ Garrard used items remembered from her childhood to frame the works, including her father’s gun from WWII and the Madonna her mother placed beside her bed, here transformed from their stereotyped roles to melt, fly and flow free. Garrard said ‘Judith Leyster was almost erased from history after her death by dealers who attributed her work to male contemporaries like Franz Hals.’ The deconstructed frame suggests a breaking away from the patriarchal art ‘his-story’ which has hitherto suppressed her.