Over the last thirty or so years, information on 20th-century British art has been steadily growing. It is now possible to draw a large and complicated map showing the various artists, groupings, networks, galleries and dealers, along with all the significant exhibitions, trends and developments. But if such a map were drawn and the contents of Carolyn Trant’s Voyaging Out were plotted on to it, the territory would suddenly become considerably more populated and many gaps would be filled. How is it that so many artists have until now been left out of the picture or mentioned only in passing? The unavoidable answer is that it’s because they were women.
Witness, for example the neglect of interest in Jessica Dismorr, one of two female artists who joined Wyndham Lewis’s Vorticist group. She and Helen Saunders appear in William Roberts’s portrait of the Vorticists at the Eiffel Tower restaurant, but they are not allowed to join the men around