Sophie Lampert pays homage to the quiet women achievers


Sophie Lampert uses art to centre the extraordinary lives and work of prominent women, from science to art to ancient times. As curator Lucy Stranger puts it, Lampert creates “soft sculptural works which explore the lives and atypical vocations of a number of women throughout history, whose brilliant careers in unusual fields defied both their gender and the social norms of the times”. And it’s these works which will be showing for The Seed at Orange Regional Gallery.

The Seed offers recent National Art School graduates a chance for their first solo exhibition. Lampert is using the opportunity to depict historical women ranging from the German naturalist and scientific illustrator Maria Sibylla Merian, whose work on the metamorphosis of the butterfly made a significant contribution to the field of entomology, to one of the first female astrologers, Elisabeth Hevelius. The astrologist, along with her husband Johannes, contributed to the founding of lunar topography—but Hevelius was not awarded the same acclaim as her spouse. As Lampert says, “These women were doing amazing things, and at the time they were recognised, but they’ve since been written out [of history] or forgotten.”

Each soft sculpture represents one of the “quiet achievers” Lampert pays tribute to, but it is the women’s work she focuses on, not their physical selves. The resulting abstract forms are intentional, compelling the audience to “focus on what they did, not what they looked like”. For example, the sculpture for Hevelius is intricately embroidered with the constellations she helped discover.

All highly detailed and lavishly upholstered in black velvet and glittering beads, Lampert’s sculptures further pay homage to spiritual modernist Hilma af Klint, Pythia (also known as the Oracle of Delphi), Italian composer Francesca Caccini, and feminist philosopher Julia Kristeva.

The Seed: Sophie Lampert
Orange Regional Gallery
25 March—7 May

This article was originally published in the March/April 2023 print edition of Art Guide Australia.

Preview Words by Sally Gearon