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Anna Ilsley | Underbelly

2 - 22 December

IMG_4295 2.HEIC

Anna Ilsley | Underbelly

2 – 22 December 2023

We are delighted to present Underbelly, a solo exhibition of new paintings by Anna Isley, at Benjamin Parsons x Hannah Payne, Oxford, in collaboration with Kristian Day.

The maternal body is a recurring motif in Anna Ilsley's work. Her painted bodies contain multitudes: they might be bursting with lusty warmth but they are also swamped with the weight of responsibility that comes with motherhood. Figures that could be children accompany many of these round-bellied women too – balancing on knees or riding on necks. 

The Suffolk-based painter is tapping into a subject with a long art historical trajectory; from the numerous portrayals of the maternal icon of the Virgin Mary to Alice Neel or Louise Bourgeois' frank depictions of motherhood’s messy realities, the figure of the mother has long held a fascination for artists, informed by the social, political and religious ideals of their times. Ilsley, with her acknowledgement of motherhood as replete with conflicting emotions and responsibilities, presents us with artistic takes on the topic that are explicitly contemporary.


Anna Ilsley (1982 UK) holds a bachelor’s degree in Fine Art Painting, Brighton University and is postgraduate in drawing at Royal Drawing School, London. Ilsley has exhibited at Rose Lipman Gallery, London; Field Projects Gallery, New York and Kristin Hjellegjerde, London among others. Ilsley’s works are represented at British School at Athens, Athens and Beijing Capital Museum, Beijing. In 2020 she was artist in residence at Newnham College, University of Cambridge. 

Text by Helena Haimes


Exhibition photography by Damien Griffiths 

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