In 1999, Joy Gregory was artist in residence at Pallant House Gallery and took, as inspiration, the Amberley Panels that were on display in the Gallery. The original panels were painted by Lambert Barnard (1490 - 1567) for Amberley Castle and are believed to have been commissioned to mark the visit of King Henry VIII in 1526. The allegorical portraits that represent heroines of antiquity, were virtuous and courageous empire builders, each holding a weapon or a symbol of their identity. Gregory used staff and volunteers from the Gallery to create photographic versions of the Amberley panels. These portraits re-examine the identity and role of women at the end of the twentieth century and challenge the notion of women as the weaker sex.

Joy Gregory’s ‘Heroines of Antiquity’ panels are shown here in conjunction with ‘Women Artsists: The Female Gaze’ exhibition currently on show in the De’Longhi print room. This contemporary re-working of 16th Century panels draws upon similar themes discussed in the exhibition and takes the female body as the central subject. Using the camera as her medium, Gregory critiques perceptions of gender, identity and racial difference by drawing upon the history of photography as a means for anthropological classification to illustrate the physiognomic differences in people’s culture and social status. Gregory’s heroines celebrate cultural diversity through the means of storytelling and in reciting mythological tales they advocate the strength of women in history.