“Although all the [paintings] are stunning, perhaps my favourite is the eponymous one: five naked models, drapped in electric-blue swags, with gold paint dripping over them from the ceiling. It reminds me of the story of the tram crash that injured the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. Impaled on a massive shard of metal, Kahlo came round to discover that someone on the tram had been carrying a tin of gold paint, and she was now covered in it. Gilded like a living human idol. A painful, disturbing and new image of womanhood.”

— Caitlin Moran, The Times


Because A Fire Was In My Head is the second line of a Yeats poem.  In the poem an old man chases “a glimmering girl... Who called me by my name and ran And faded through the brightening air”.  The exhibition celebrates this female muse who appears in different forms in the paintings.


Shared visual and narrative memories are accessed via the use of familiar images, from Bronzino’s Venus to Rubens’ Samson and Delilah.  This appropriation of images and meaning is both a conversation with our visual history and an enquiry into the potency of certain images and how we consume them. 




I love this painting. Any woman who has breastfed knows the experience of shooting milk darts with abandon. It makes me laugh that people are so squeamish about lactating breasts. We are happy to have women’s nakedness draped over cars and festooning page 3 but the very function for which breasts primarily exist so often evokes grunts of disapproval or prim censure. Alice has captured the sensuousness of the whole business. It’s beautiful.

– Baroness Helena Kennedy QC