Breaking the Mould

In just a few weeks time (4 April) the Arts Council Collection Touring Exhibition Breaking the Mould: Sculpture by Women since 1945‘ was due to open in the Longside Gallery at Yorkshire Sculpture Park near Wakefield. It is a very timely survey, coming just a month after International Women’s Day 2020, and one that seeks to re-define post-war British sculpture by presenting a diverse range of work by women.

Challenging previously male-dominated narratives, it seeks to re-address the balance in women’s favour and thus highlights the work of those women who may have been marginalised or even airbrushed out as serious and significant artist contributors in this period. The work of over 50 women sculptors is included in the show. It will be well worth a visit!

To help celebrate the creation of this touring show, we’re recommending several titles that concentrate on just some of the artists being exhibited.

Of course, first up is the book that Hayward Publishing have produced alongside the exhibition itself. We recommend Breaking the Mould. Included are fresh critical texts from artists, curators and writers that help present a mix of multiple voices and perspectives. Also included is a key events timeline covering the last 75 years.

Phyllida Barlow – Well known for her large sculptures and installations, sometimes called ‘3D collages’, Barlow often creates commanding works that use construction materials, as well as everyday resources, like fabric and cardboard. We recommend: Phyllida Barlow: Mix

Helen Chadwick – Is well known for her installations and photographic works. Her death in 1996 cut short a most brilliant career, yet her influence with the YBA still resonates. We recommend: Helen Chadwick: Wreaths to Pleasure and Helen Chadwick’s ‘Ego Geometria Sum’: a biography – Essays on Sculpture 64

Tracey Emin – Another artist of YBA fame, and a Turner Prize-nominee, Emin is a brilliant story teller. We recommend: Tracey Emin: Borrowed Light

Mona Hatoum – Her installations often reflect on the specifics of place, then connect to questions of politics and society. We recommend: Ayse Erkmen & Mona Hatoum: Displacements

Shirazey Houshiary – In 2013 she said that, ‘The universe is in a process of disintegration…everything is in a state of erosion, and yet we try to stabilise it. This tension fascinates me and it’s at the core of my work’. We recommend: Shirazeh Houshiary: No Boundary Condition

Sarah Lucas – Lucas’s sculptures are often made of and from the human body or from ordinary things in everyday life. Sometimes sensationalised, her work consistently questions the definition of sculpture. We recommend:  Sarah Lucas: Ordinary Things

Rachel Whiteread – Winner of the Turner Prize in 1992, Whiteread caused great consternation when she used an ordinary house as a mould, filled it with concrete and let it sit on the side of parkland for 3 months before it was then torn down by the local council. We recommend: House: Rachel Whiteread DVD

Alison Wilding – Often challenges our expectations as the viewer. She says. ‘I don’t believe in a hierarchy of materials. All materials, however mundane, can be transformed.’ We recommend: Alison Wilding: Vanish & Detail

Cornelia Parker – Is another sculptor that transforms the ordinary into the extraordinary. She has also been hugely influenced by Photography. We recommend: Cornelia Parker and Silver and Glass: Cornelia Parker and Photography.

Anthea Hamilton – Was short-listed for the Turner Prize in 2016. She creates sculptures, installations and videos that make reference to the history of art, cinema and performance. We recommend: Anthea Hamilton: Sorry I’m Late

Susan Collis – Collis’ work is often very subtle and deceptive and involves a subversion of our perception. We recommend: Susan Collis: Since I Fell For You

Katie Cuddon – Not fundamentally identifying as a sculptor, Cuddon nonetheless offers unique insights into sculptural practice. She says, ‘Through the process of making work I seek to navigate subjects to which we have an emotional response.’ We recommend: Katie Cuddon

Rose Finn-Kelcey – Is an important figure in Performance and Feminist Art and Installation. She often concentrated on language, its use and misuse as a central focus for her work. We recommend: Rose Finn-Kelcey

Eva Rothschild – Usually large scale, Rothschild’s sculptural compositions explore the relationship between surface and structure, testing the abstract and figurative at the same time. We recommend: Eva Rothschild

And that’s just a small selection of highly relevant titles that we have on our ever-growing list. Why not do some browsing for yourself, to see what other connections you can uncover?

The show hopefully tours on around the UK to The New Art Gallery Walsall (3 Jul – 6 September 2020); Djanogly Gallery, Nottingham (27 March – 20 June 2021); and Ferens Art Gallery, Hull (3 Jul – 3 October 2021).

Image credit: 'Leg Chair (Jane Birkin)' by artist Anthea Hamilton, Arts Council Collection. Featured in Breaking the Mould (Hayward Publishing, 2020)
Posted on 16th March 2020
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