House of Women


Michelle Williams Gamaker
Michelle Williams Gamaker works with performance and video assuming fictional as well as documentary modes, to consider the intergenerational effects of colonialism. Her pieces have explored migratory aesthetics, mental health, and the emotional complexities of capitalism and gender ideology. For House of Women (2015), the artist recasts the role of a silent, dancing girl named Kanchi in the film Black Narcissus (1947). The coveted role was played by a seventeen year old Jean Simmons, who as a white English actor wore dark makeup and a jewel in her nose to become the "exotic temptress" of Rumer Godden's novel of the same name. In her video, Williams Gamaker auditions only Indian expat or first generation British Asian women and non-binary individuals living in London. Unlike the original role, in House of Women the Kanchi of the 21st Century speaks. Shot on 16mm film, the four candidates, Krishna Istha, Jasdeep Kandola, Tina Mander and Arunima Rajkumar introduce themselves to an anonymous reader. In the staged conditions of an audition, they feel the glare of the studio lights and the camera's gaze. As a result, the viewer may find themselves empathising with the young hopefuls as they compete for a role.
  • Artwork Details: running time: 14 minutes 5seconds
  • Edition: 1 of 3
  • Material description: 16mm Film transferred to HDV
  • Credit line: © the artist
  • Theme: Undefined
  • Medium: Film and Audio Visual
  • Accession number: ACC4/2017

Explore this Artwork

In this episode of the Newlyn Art Gallery & The Exchange podcast Art Pod, artists Young In Hong and Michelle Williams Gamaker are in conversation about their artistic practices and respective works in Newlyn Art Gallery’s 2020 exhibition Go On Being So. The work was selected from the Arts Council Collection by The MBA Collective, a group of art, photography and graphics students from Mounts Bay Academy.


In addition, two members of the MBA Collective, Florence Silby and Josie Miles, conducted Q&A interviews with Young In Hong and Michelle Williams Gamaker respectively. You can read their responses here:


Q&A: Florence Silby with Young In Hong Q&A: Josie Miles & Michelle Williams Gamaker

About the Artist

From the Q&A with Go On Being So curator Josie Miles and exhibiting artist Michelle Williams Gamaker


JM: What inspires you to work with moving image?


MWG: I love its immediacy and I love how screens and moving image absorbs us. It's very close to cinema in that respect, but allows better access in terms of slightly easier budgets! I guess when I was at art school, it was the cheapest medium to work in. I just needed a camera and I could make my work by turning the camera on and pointing it at myself. My projects are much more complicated now, but ultimately, I could still make my work very cheaply, and that means a lot.


The Arts Council Collection is the UK's most widely seen collection of modern and contemporary art.

With more than 8,000 works by over 2,000 artists, it can be seen in exhibitions and public displays across the country and beyond. This website offers unprecedented access to the Collection, and information about each work can be found on this site.