In their group exhibition, Four Women in Aquelarre, artists Anna Alcock, Linda Green, Kirsten Schmidt and Yanire Sylva Delgado focus on the fragility of existence through the lens of feminine wisdom and experience in their paintings, prints and sculptures.

The term Aquelarre or Witches’ Sabbath was used during the Spanish Inquisition to justify misogyny, persecution and murder. Through their creative acts of self-expression and rebellion, Anna Alcock, Linda Green, Kirsten Schmidt and Yanire Sylva Delgado are reclaiming the term.

Anna Alcock’s charged, gestural relief prints rework stories and myths familiar from Old Master paintings to explore complex issues: environmental catastrophe, political and social upheaval, and personal trauma.  

Anna says: ‘My meditation on death, Triumph of Death borrows from the composition of Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s painting of the same name. In my image inspired by Cezanne’s The Large Bathers, I turn the idea of the male gaze on its head. Beautiful Zoonoses, after Peter Paul Rubens’ The Fall of Phaeton’, reconsiders Phaeton’s destruction as a story of psychological damage and climate change.’ 

‘On the other hand, Water Dance is my Lego experiment. A friend says it looks like the Town Hall at dusk – and I love that idea!‘ 

Kirsten Schmidt, who will be showing sculptures in metal and clay, explains how all of her work starts with a drawing. She says, ‘Years of drawing anthropological artefacts in museums has led me to making votive sculptures. I love the visual manifestation of humans trying to connect with an invisible, imagined world. Our need for ritual and our desire to uncover a power greater than ourselves fascinates me.’ 

‘I like to think of my sculptures as the historical artefacts of the distant future and I love the idea of people many years from now trying to unpuzzle their meaning.’ 

Excitingly, visitors will be encouraged to handle or even wear some of Kirsten’s work to deepen their engagement with it. 

In her most recent ceramic sculptures, Yanire Sylva Delgado has created a series of layered and folded ceramic forms, each with a compelling anthropomorphic presence. Yanire explains:  

‘I think of them as beings wrapped within themselves, built with layers of tissue and water, the layers of success, failure, happiness and pain that support and give structure to our consciousness and entire being. To make sense of the world we are in and how we relate to it we should look inside. It’s a journey most of us dislike but it’s one we have to take in order to know how to relate and belong.’ 

Yanire draws on the practice of meditation. ‘In meditation, one focuses on breath, the air going in and out, and how that grounds you and helps you to slow down. You start to feel your body expanding too, that your body is just a shell.’ 

‘In my most recent sculptures I’m materialising that idea of emptiness, space and the freedom one can experience. I’m wishing for an emptiness and silence in my heart, without words, without fear.’ 

In her densely textured and complex mixed media works, Linda Green explores the tension between the accidental and the intentional, arriving at images that are produced through a deliberate accretion and a stripping away of layers. T.S. Eliot’s Four Quartets, which suite of poems was published 80 years ago, at the height of WW11, continues to be a powerful source of inspiration. Linda says: ‘Each of Eliot’s poems – Burnt Norton, East Coker, The Dry Salvages and Little Gidding –corresponds to one of the four elements: air, earth, water and fire, and the death of these elements signals both the end of the world and the possibility of the re-emergence and birth of a new creation.  

‘We are living in dark times,’ she adds. ‘Whilst it may be important to stay hopeful and positive, there also needs to be a space for recognising feelings of anxiety and despair.’ 

4 Women in Aquellare is at Winns Gallery, Lloyd Park, London E17 5JW, 16th – 24th Sep 2023. The exhibition is open 12-5pm (Mon-Fri) and 10-5pm (Sat & Sun). 


Anna Alcock was born in South Africa. She studied for a BA Fine Art (Hons) at UKZN South Africa and graduated with a First in Printmaking and Classics. She graduated from Camberwell College of Art, London, in 2004 with an MA in Printmaking. She subsequently joined East London Printmakers and was a co-founder of Inky Cuttlefish Studios, London E17. She is a mother, artist and printmaker – in that order. Her work is about living in the now, and leaving a lasting legacy and personal mythology for her children by being congruent to her personal circumstances which she explores using archetypes, mythology, folktales and storytelling. 

Kirsten Schmidt was born in Lübeck, North Germany. She came to London and graduated from Camberwell College of Art, London, with BA Decorative and Sculptural Metalwork.. She says: ‘Etching metal for surface decoration led me into etching in printmaking, and this has been my main passion for many years. I’ve produced linocuts, etchings and screenprints inspired by nature. More recently, I’ve returned to 3D work.’ 

Yanire Sylva Delgado was born in Ecuador, and settled in London. She studied printmaking in Madrid, worked as a University Lecturer in Ecuador and has recently been graduated with an MA in Book Design from Essex University. Her passion is ceramics; she is an active member of the Craft Potters Association. She has a studio at Blackhorse Workshop, E17. She says: ‘My pieces strive to express the beauty that comes from the imperfect symmetry of the natural world. The beauty that arises from our own human geometrical imperfections fascinates me. Traces left by my fingers as I work on my objects is something I like to preserve. In some of my work I use embroidery to leave a trace – reminders of the maternal, homemaking influences that I have grown up with. I conceive them as peaceful and balanced, as values that I am drawn towards.’