Ethel Gabain (1883-1950) learned lithography as a student at Central School of Arts and Crafts in London and it remained her principal medium in a long career. Also a painter and etcher, her work has recently attracted renewed interest for her achievements as an Official War Artist in the Second World War.
Her first lithographs were published in 1906 and in 1914 she had her first exhibition at Goupil Gallery. Colnaghi then became her dealers and exhibitions followed in Glasgow (1915), at Colnaghi (1920) and in Chicago (1920, 1921 and 1924).
Young women recur as her subjects and her vision shows an abiding interest in the feminine and the domestic. The women sometimes inhabit spaces that are vast and suffocating. In others, her figures appear bold, sometimes impertinent, and convey the impression of subjects feeling themselves to be free.
As an Official War Artist during the Second World War she was given the task of depicting British women workers. Her lithographs celebrate robust and determined women working together. Gabain was able to emphasise both their feminity and their bravery, grasping their personal emotion in the collective action.
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