Lee Miller and Roland Penrose – Love Letters bound in Gold Handcuffs

About this exhibition

”Lovers who escape who are free to separate,
free to re-unite leave their tongues
plaited together hidden in the dry grass
folded in peasant cloth
embalmed in the green memories of desire”

by Roland Penrose




In the pre-digital age, before email and cell phones, it was letters that carried a special importance for lovers across the globe. The words on the pages of a love letter carry the nuances and emotions of love and desire, passion and anger in a deeply confidential way.

This exhibition is inspired by the urgency and the intimacy of the featured writers, which can be clearly felt in the collection of letters between Lee Miller, Photographer, and Roland Penrose, Surrealist Artist, as they conducted their long-distance romance.  Lee Miller’s photography in Egypt (1934-1939) accompanies the central story of new love expressed. The letters begin with the meeting of Miller and Penrose in Paris in 1937, and run to 1939 when Lee Miller left her Egyptian husband, Aziz Eloui Bey, in Cairo and joined Roland Penrose in London at the start of World War 2.



In this real-life romantic drama, the period and their connections give us a supporting cast that includes Dora Maar and Picasso, Nusch and Paul Eluard, Leonora Carrington and Max Ernst, Ady Fidelin and Man Ray.

The exhibition is accompanied by a book ‘Lee Miller and Roland Penrose: Love Letters Bound in Gold Handcuffs‘ that contains the nearly three hundred pages of love letters between Lee Miller (in Egypt) and Roland Penrose (in London) and highlights that as the relationship grew, it produced and supported some of the world’s best loved art and photography. The letters have never been published before, and have only been read by a handful of people since they were first written.