Joanna Moorhead’s engrossing new biography Surreal Spaces offers an intimate look at the life and art of her late cousin, the pioneering artist Leonora Carrington. Leonora continually defied the expectations of her family and society, turning away from British upper class life and casting away comfort in the name of freedom, declaring that ‘safety, under any circumstances, is an illusion’.
In this episode, we sit down with Joanna to explore the bond she forged with Leonora over five unforgettable years in Mexico City, reflecting on the spaces and locations that infused Leonora’s art.
The journey begins with Leonora’s childhood at Crookhey Hall, a gothic, turreted home whose menacing character influenced her early years. We explore her time in Paris, where she held her own in the cafés of Saint-Germain alongside Picasso, Breton, Duchamp and Dali.
The conversation moves on to the St-Martin d’Ardèche farmhouse Leonora shared with Max Ernst, with whom she enjoyed a profound romantic and creative bond, and where the two artists embedded art into the fabric of their home.
Joanna describes Leonora’s terrifying experiences in a sanatorium in Spain, and finally explores Leonora’s Mexico City home, where she was able to live on her own terms, in ‘the most surreal nation on the planet’.
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This episode was produced and presented by Eliza Apperly and edited by Benjamin Nash.