Prudence Heward Life & Work by Julia Skelly
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I was first drawn to Prudence Heward’s work because of her female subjects’ facial expressions and other body language. I am fascinated by the sense of interiority that Heward was able to create in these paintings of non-smiling women. Heward suffered terribly from loss and illness, yet she produced an oeuvre characterized by an engagement with both European modernism and female subjects who do not ask the viewer to see them as feminine or even attractive.
Julia Skelly

Julia Skelly

Julia Skelly is Affiliate Assistant Professor of Art History at Concordia University. She received a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) Postdoctoral Fellowship in 2011, having completed her PhD at Queen’s University in 2010. Skelly is the author of Wasted Looks: Addiction and British Visual Culture, 1751–1919 (Ashgate, 2014) and editor of The Uses of Excess in Visual and Material Culture, 1600–2010 (Ashgate, 2014). Her research interests include addiction, excess, decadence, contemporary feminist textiles and craft, the visual culture of slavery, Canadian temperance banners, and British graphic satire. Her next book-length study, Radical Decadence: Contemporary Feminist Textiles and Craft, is under contract with Bloomsbury. Skelly was born in Montreal in 1983, completed her MA at McGill University, and held her SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellowship at Concordia University. She is interested in Prudence Heward in part because of her Montreal roots but also because Heward’s figurative paintings often represent women as self-contained and confident. Skelly has long been intrigued and troubled by Heward’s aesthetic choices related to gender and race in her paintings of black women, and she welcomed the opportunity to engage critically with these artworks, drawing on both feminist and post-colonial theories. She also appreciates the fact that curator Charles C. Hill once described Heward as the enfant terrible of early twentieth-century Montreal’s art world.