The Silver Maiden (Leichner Palette)

Michelle Williams Gamaker


About the edition

This edition by Michelle Williams Gamaker was created with our Print Studio to accompany her DCA solo exhibition Our Mountains are Painted on Glass

At the centre of this work is the character of The Silver Maiden (played by Ananya Jaidev) from Michelle Williams Gamaker’s new film Thieves, a fantasy adventure retelling of The Thief of Bagdad. In Gamaker Williams’ revised storyline, previously marginalised characters become the leading cast and seek their revenge.

The screenprint is a collage of a set photograph of The Silver Maiden by Ellen Jane Rogers, a long-term collaborator of Williams Gamaker, with overlays of a 1930s ‘Leichner’ brand make-up palette.

In the 1940 Technicolour version of The Thief of Bagdad, The Silver Maiden was played by Mary Morris, a white actress. Across 20th century cinema, many white actors utilised make-up, prosthetics and costumes to imitate people from other cultures: a racist and offensive act now largely confined to history.

Ludwig Leichner was a German opera singer best known for the theatrical greasepaint his firm, L. Leichner, developed in the late 19th century. It became a global brand through its endorsement by ‘America’s Sweetheart’, actress and founder of the Motion Picture Academy, Mary Pickford.

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Year 2023
Edition of 25
Media Screenprint on white Somerset satin 300gsm
Dimensions Image Size: 34 x 27.5cm
Paper Size: 42 x 29.7cm
Signature tbc

About Michelle Williams Gamaker

Michelle Williams Gamaker is a Sri-Lankan British award-winning moving image artist. Since 2014, she has been developing Fictional Activism: the restoration of marginalised film stars of colour as central figures, who return in her works as brown protagonists to challenge the fictional injustices to which they have been historically consigned. 

Williams Gamaker is joint winner of Film London’s Jarman Award (2020) and has an extensive national and international profile, including prestigious BFI London Film Festivals (2017, 2018 and 2021), Aesthetica Short Film Festival (winner of Best Experimental Film, 2021 and 2023) and Raindance (2022).  

Recent group exhibitions include A Tall Order!, Rochdale Art Gallery (2023) and a major public commission Springfield Eternal in the atrium of Springfield Hospital for charity Hospital Rooms (2023), Like There is Hope and I Can Dream of Another World at Hauser & Wirth, Whitechapel’s The London Open 2022 and I Multiply Each Day, Gus Fisher Gallery, Auckland (2021), 

Williams Gamaker’s major institutional solo exhibition, Our Mountains are Painted on Glass premiered Thieves (2023), her first film in Fictional Revenge. Thieves was co-commissioned by Film London, South London Gallery and Dundee Contemporary Arts. The show will tour to Bluecoat, Liverpool in 2024. Her work is in the Arts Council Collection, distributed by LUX and her entire filmography is part of the BFI National Film Archive. She is currently working toward a new body of work in Fictional Healing, which will complete her Critical Affection Trilogy.  

Williams Gamaker is Reader in BA Fine Art at Goldsmiths College, University of London, and is currently a British Academy Wolfson Fellow. She is a Studio Artist at Gasworks, where she is also a trustee.