The Arts Council Collection Touring Exhibition, Breaking the Mould: Sculpture by Women since 1945, is the first major survey of post-war British sculpture by women. Spanning more than seventy years and exploring the work of fifty sculptors, the exhibition provides a redress to the many accounts of British sculpture that have marginalised women or airbrushed their work out of art history altogether.
Breaking the Mould opened at the Djanogly Gallery in September. Here is a taster of the work of three great women artists represented in the exhibition.
In the 1930s, Barbara Hepworth was a pioneering figure of the international art scene. Her work is characterised by the technique of direct carving into stone or wood. At the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939, she and her family moved to St. Ives in Cornwall where she lived for the rest of her life. Before her death in 1975, she requested that her studio become a museum for all to enjoy. The Barbara Hepworth Studio and Sculpture Garden is still one of Cornwall’s most popular destinations.
Stone never surrenders to force." Barbara Hepworth
Images from left to right: Barbara Hepworth Oval Form (Trezion), 1962-3; an image of Barbara Hepworth working on a sculpture; Barbara Hepworth Oval Sculpture, 1943
Along with Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin, Sarah Lucas was one of the so-called Young British Artists generation that came to public attention in the 1990s. Her work often includes bawdy humour and sexualized references to the body, sometimes employing food as a stand in for body parts. Lucas says that she uses her work as a vehicle for revealing sexism whilst not commenting overtly on it. She has stated that “I am not trying to solve the problem. I’m exploring the moral dilemma by incorporating it”.
Anytime you use something, no matter how disgusting, there has to be some pleasure in it, if only because you transform it and you do something with it, rather than just being passively assaulted by it [...] It’s about turning things around, really, and the realization that looking at art is a self-conscious business." Sarah Lucas (ArtSpace interview with Massimiliano Gioni)
Images from left to right: Sarah Lucas Au Naturel, 1994; image of Sarah Lucas with one of her sculptures; Sarah Lucas NUD CYCLADIC 7, 2010.
SOKARI DOUGLAS CAMP CBE
Born in Buguma in Nigeria, Sokari Douglas Camp lives and works in London and has exhibited her work internationally. Her sculpture is made predominantly in steel and she is particularly skilled at cutting the metal to suggest patterned fabrics. She often takes inspiration from her Kalabari heritage and the figures in the exhibition were originally part of a much larger sculptural installation depicting a Kalabari masquerade festival.
I was not good at painting so I tried sculpture, as I liked putting my hand in my work." Sokari Douglas Camp (Independent interview with Karen Wright)
Images from left to right: Sokari Douglas Camp Europe supported by Africa and America, 2015; an image of Sokari Douglas Camp in work overalls with her sculptures; Sokari Douglas Camp Butterfly Head, 2011.
Top banner image: Jann Haworth Calendula's Cloak 1967.
If you have not visited Breaking the Mould yet you still have time:
An Arts Council Collection Touring Exhibition
BREAKING THE MOULD: SCULPTURE BY WOMEN SINCE 1945
Saturday 18 September – Sunday 9 January
Open Tuesday-Saturday: 11am-5pm
Closed on Mondays
Admission free, no booking required
A superb survey of post-war UK women's sculpture at The Djanogly Gallery."