Anna Mendelssohn: Speak, Poetess

  • Anna Mendelssohn Exhibition

    Installation Images of Anna Mendelssohn: Speak, Poetess. Photo Credit: Theo Christelis. Images used by permission of the Mendelssohn Estate

  • Anna Mendelssohn Exhibition

    Installation Images of Anna Mendelssohn: Speak, Poetess. Photographer Credit: Theo Christelis.

  • Anna Mendelssohn, 01

    Installation Images of Anna Mendelssohn: Speak, Poetess. Photographer Credit: Theo Christelis.

Free entry

11 Oct 2023 – 21 Jan 2024

Gallery 4

Monday Closed
Tuesday 11am–6pm
Wednesday 11am–6pm
Thursday 11am–9pm
Friday 11am–6pm
Saturday 11am–6pm
Sunday 11am–6pm

Please note: Gallery 2 will be closed from 4pm on 7 & 13 December 2023.

Please note: The Gallery's lift is currently out of order. This is due to operational risks that render it unsafe for use. We are working hard to get it back up and running as soon as possible.

Christmas Opening Hours: We will be closed on the 23, 24, 25 & 26 Dec 2023 & 1 Jan 2024.

Access Information


Curatorial Essay

By Eugene Yiu Nam Cheung


Anna Mendelssohn: Speak, Poetess

This autumn we present the first institutional display of works by the poet, writer, and artist, Anna Mendelssohn, who was also known as Grace Lake. 

This archival exhibition presents a selection of Mendelssohn’s poetry and works on paper. Through the confluence of poetry and visual art, Mendelssohn explores—amongst other things—the socio-historical mechanisms which influence the creation and destruction of language in public and private spheres. Anna Mendelssohn: Speak, Poetess brings together works which examine how iniquities such as war, fascism, and incarceration influence the ways we express and give form to history and social experience.

Anna Mendelssohn: Speak, Poetess is curated by Eugene Yiu Nam Cheung, the 2023 Asymmetry Curatorial Fellow at Whitechapel Gallery, with Sara Crangle, Professor of Modernism & the Avant-Garde at the University of Sussex as curatorial consultant.

Please note, there is no step-free access to this exhibition and unfortunately, our lift is currently out of service. We are working hard to resolve this as soon as possible.

Read the full press release here.


About Anna Mendelssohn

Anna Mendelssohn (b. 1948—d. 2009) authored poetry, fiction, drama, and life writing; she was also a visual artist, musician and translator. From 1971 to 1977 she served time at Holloway Prison in London due to her involvement in extreme leftist activism. From the early 1980s, Mendelssohn composed fifteen poetry collections and published in journals receptive to her experimental, charged lyrics, among them, ParataxisCritical Quarterly, and Jacket. Her work appeared in seminal anthologies including Denise Riley’s Poets on Writing (1992), Iain Sinclair’s Conductors of Chaos (1996), and Rod Mengham and John Kinsella’s Vanishing Points: New Modernist Poems (2004). Often situated within the British Poetry Revival, Mendelssohn retained a marginal, if constant, presence in the poetry community in Cambridge, England, where she lived from 1983 until her death. In 2010, her vast archive of writings and drawings was generously donated by her three children to Special Collections at the University of Sussex.

About the Asymmetry Curatorial Fellowship

Asymmetry is an independent non-profit foundation dedicated to nurturing curatorial practices and the development of cultural knowledge in and about Asia through global exchange. The Curatorial Fellowships place curators in pioneering European institutions, sharpening their skills and expanding their networks, whilst enabling the institutions to gain from the Fellow’s specific expertise and perspective on Chinese and East Asian contemporary art. By facilitating international opportunities for curators and academics from this region, Asymmetry seeks to integrate Chinese and East Asian contemporary art and curatorial practice into a wider art world discourse.