Ghislaine Howard

Ghislaine Howard is a painter of powerful and expressive means, whose works chart and interpret our shared human experience. Named as a ‘Woman of the Year’ in 2008 for her contribution to art and society, she has exhibited in many prestigious venues including Manchester Art Gallery, The Whitworth, Imperial War Museum North, Canterbury Cathedral and the British Museum and has works in major public collections including the Royal Collection. She is married to the art historian Michael Howard and they live in the Derbyshire Peak District.

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Ghislaine first came to public attention in 1993 with her ground-breaking exhibition at Manchester Art Gallery, ‘A Shared Experience’. The exhibition attracted much critical attention and was followed by commissioned projects with various diverse communities including cathedrals, theatres, prisons, the BBC, Women’s Refuges as well as with major organisations such as Amnesty International and more recently with Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce.
Her sequence of large paintings The Stations of the Cross / The Captive Figure was commissioned by Liverpool Cathedral in 2000 and since then has toured the cathedral cities of the UK. Her 25 foot high Visitation Altarpiece can be seen in Trinity Chapel at Liverpool Hope University. For Liverpool’s celebrations as Capital of Culture she produced a major new work The Empty Tomb which was unveiled by the Bishop of Liverpool on Easter Sunday 2008.

A central part of her practice is her ‘365 Series.’, each day she paints a small panel in response to news media images – an exhibition of 365 of these paintings took place at Imperial War Museum North from in 2009 and groups of them continue to be shown at various venues around the country. These have formed the basis of a major new series The Seven Acts of Mercy.

In 2013, Ghislaine’s drawing ‘Pregnant Self Portrait, July 1987’ [collection Whitworth Art Gallery] was at the centre piece in the British Museum’s exhibition, ‘Ice Age Art / The Arrival of the Modern Mind’, where it was placed alongside 30,000 year old sculptures of pregnant women, some of the earliest representations of the human form.

Ghislaine has featured in various publications and television documentaries including Degas: An Old Man Mad about Art, 1996 and Degas and the Dance in 2004, which was awarded the prestigious international Peabody Award.

Her work has played a central role in the three immensely successful and inspirational exhibitions curated by the renowned filmmakers, artists and curators, Al and Al. Bearing the overarching title ‘The Fire Within’, the exhibitions were situated in the open spaces of a transformed shopping mall in the centre of Wigan town known as The Galleries. The second exhibition, ‘Love is a Rebellious bird’ featured over 50 of Ghislaine’s works.

A permanent, but changing, exhibition of over 100 of Ghislaine’s paintings is on view at the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce. Situated at Elliot House, one of Manchester’s iconic Victorian buildings at 151 Deansgate, Manchester. It is open to visitors during working hours and on the last Friday afternoon of every month all the rooms are available to view. The ground floor rooms are co-curated by Al and Al, the creative directors of Haigh Hall, whilst the second floor is dedicated to work associated with the ’10 Boroughs / 10 Paintings’ project. Over the next 6 years, Ghislaine and her art historian husband, Michael [who is also a gallery artist] will choose one work from each of the ten boroughs’ galleries to create a specially curated installation in which contemporary issues will be explored inspired by the chosen artwork. The present installation centres upon Lord Leighton’s spectacular ‘Captive Andromache’ completed in 1888 from Manchester City Art Gallery. Its subject is taken from Homer’s Iliad, she has lost her husband, killed by Achilles and seen her son murdered before her. Her city destroyed, she is now no longer a princess of Troy, but a slave in a distant land. The contemporary resonance of this timeless story is self-evident.

A major monograph, ‘Ghislaine Howard, the Human Touch, Paintings, Prints and Drawings, 1980-2016’, written by Michael Howard and published by Manchester Metropolitan University Press was published in 2017.

Concerning A Shared Experience, Manchester City Gallery
It is through Howard’s moving embodiment of empathy that she really makes her mark. Her work is so intimately tender in approach it could hardly have been painted by any male at any time anywhere.
Robert Clark, The Guardian