News

October 2021: ‘We Are Still Here’

Alexandra Harley, ‘Adaxka’, wood, 2020.

This Stuff Matters, the discussion forum and exhibiting group of four women sculptors from London and the North that I am a member of is holding a two day pop-up show and Artists’ Q&A in October. 

‘We Are Still Here – Four Women Making Abstract Sculpture’

16th and 17th October 2021

Yorkshire Artspace Exchange Place Studios
Exchange Street
Sheffield
S2 5TR
The exhibition is open 11 – 2pm. Entry is free and there is no need to book.

Artists Q&A, chaired by Meghan Goodeve
Saturday 16th October 2021
2.00 – 3.30
Followed by informal meet the artists with refreshments
3.30 – 5.30.
Please book on Eventbrite

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/we-are-still-here-artists-qa-chaired-by-meghan-goodeve-tickets-172955082307

The other artists in This Stuff Matters are:
Jill Gibson @jillgibsonartist
Alexandra Harley @harleysculpture
Sheila Vollmer @sheilavollmer

Since This Stuff Matters was formed in 2019, the main realisation that has come from the group’s discussions has been the similar positions each of the members found themselves as women sculptors, working in a particular niche of contemporary art.  All four sculptors, who have been working and exhibiting since 1980s, are died-in-the-wool feminists, although they don’t make art that would be considered to be about feminist issues. They have all avoided being seen as Women Sculptors, preferring to imagine that making art is by its nature an endeavour of equality. As young women they believed that things would change but now realise later in their careers that abstract sculpture, with a few notable exceptions, is still mostly a male domain. They feel that as women sculptors they do bring a different perspective to making and showing abstract sculpture and that this should be celebrated. They find that the support they give each other is extremely valuable in maintaining their practices and self-belief!

The artists have invited Meghan Goodeve to chair a discussion before an audience to investigate three questions:

What is the relevance of contemporary abstraction in an art world which is focussed on image-based, issue-based and socially engaged art practice?

What, if anything, is it that women artists can bring to abstract sculpture, that is different to men?

How do we see the future of our work and of other women making abstract sculpture?

Meghan Goodeve (she/ her) is a curator and educator with ten years’ experience in integrated programming, specialising in artistic projects which affect social change. Her work is concerned with supporting artists at all stages of their career, with particular attention to addressing representation around race, gender, sexuality, class, and disability. She currently leads the Freelands Artist Programme, steering a UK-wide programme supporting emerging artists. Previously, she was the Engagement Curator for Yorkshire Sculpture International where she helped establish a major £1.5 million international sculpture festival in 2019, with four of the UK’s leading art galleries, curating an international commission in the public realm, public programming, an artists’ development programme, and artist-led education commissions. She has held roles at The Hepworth Wakefield, The Courtauld Gallery, and National Gallery. She is also a freelance curator delivering projects specialising in social practice and working with early career artists. She is on the board of Yorkshire Art Space, Sheffield, an advisor for Threshold Sculpture, Leeds, and a governor for a SEND school in Sheffield. 

July – September 2021: Learning new skills

Casting a satsuma using a silicone block mould and jesmonite

As part of my project ‘Multiple forms: New Skills’ supported by Arts Council England’s Developing Your Creative Practice fund, I have attended two short courses at London Sculpture Workshop, Casting in Jesmonite and Silicone Mould-making.

It has been the first time I have learned any new practical making skills for my own practice in a long time. I really enjoyed the experience but now I need to experiment with the processes and decide how to use them in my work.

I have some ideas for using Jesmonite that I wouldn’t have had without attending the the course. I will cast shapes that create mass and varied surface that can then become of some the elements constructed into sculpture with other materials. Using Jesmonite will be a way to bring colour into my work that is intrinsic to the material rather than painted on, something I hadn’t considered before. I can also cast several objects and start to explore repetition.

Two part mould-making using silicone in a plaster jacket seems long and involved to someone like me who is used to reducing process to its simplest form so I can focus on the sculpture rather than the attrition of making. I may make two part moulds in future but I think I will adjust the method to make it suit my style of working and to reduce the amount of clay I would have to waste. I don’t normally use clay and don’t want to have to keep it, and then reconstitute it when it has become dry as I don’t have the space.

I am excited to start work on the next phase, which has been delayed by the opening up of life after lockdown, meaning other work has been rescheduled to this Summer, making me very busy.

June 2021: Matter Out of Place

Foreground: ‘A Seat at the Table’, found chair and table, steel, vinyl, concrete, silver-plate ladle.
Wall work by Artworks South Yorkshire artists.
Photo: Laura Page

After many months of planning, socially distanced artistic exchanges and working in collaboration, the women’s artist collective Material Voice that I am a member of are holding our second exhibition.

Matter Out of Place is on show at
Yorkshire Artspace Persistence Works, 21 Brown Street, Sheffield S1 2BS.
17th June – 10th July 2021.
The gallery is open Thursday, Friday and Saturday, 11am – 5 pm.

There is a socially distanced preview event on 23rd June, 5 – 8pm, with a screening of a new film made by photographer Laura Page in response to the show.

45-minute sessions can be booked in advance at https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/matter-out-of-place-preview-film-screening-tickets-159407370737 

Finding ways to navigate through the coronavirus pandemic, Sheffield-based collective Material Voice have been experimenting with socially distanced ways of collaboration by giving each other sculptural prompts to respond to; a process that has challenged and enhanced our individual art practices.

This exchange has been extended to include artists with learning disabilities at Burton Street Arts and ArtWorks South Yorkshire. Working with everyday materials provided by Material Voice, the participants have created artworks that reinterpret existing understandings of form and function.

Inspired by these exchanges and exploring the theme Matter Out of Place, Material Voice artists have created new individual and collaborative sculptural works for this exhibition that question ideas of disruption, control, risk and trust. These are exhibited alongside work made by everyone who engaged with this project, creating a dynamic, multi-voiced body of work.

I am showing ‘A Seat at the Table’, the piece in the image, works made in collaboration with Clee Claire Lee and works with all members of the collective.

April 2021: Arts Council funding!

I am delighted to have received a grant from Arts Council England as part of their Developing Your Creative Practice fund.

My project is to extend my sculpture skills to explore casting methods so that I can cast found objects in multiples to create forms that become raw material for new works. 

Part of the funding would pay for two courses of mould-making and casting with London Sculpture Workshop.

I will then spend time in the studio experimenting with the skills and processes I have learnt to develop my own personal language that can be used in future works for exhibition and commission. 

I wish to cast multiples of artefacts in order to disrupt and reinterpret their value and meaning within sculptural constructions. Once cast the forms may be further transformed and degraded so they take on new roles within the sculpture, bringing a new vocabulary to my work and revealing new narratives.

December 2020: Winter Group Show, Linden Hall Studio

On the left – ‘Not a Column’, 2020 steel, teak, concrete, stainless steel teapot.
Photo: Mike Owen

I am delighted to have been selected for the Winter Group Show 2020/21 at Linden Hall Studio in Deal, Kent. It’s an impressive roster of artists including many artists whom I have known or known of since I was a student.

List of artists in show

The work I am showing is ‘Not a Column’, 2020.

Alexandra Harley and Sheila Volmer from This Stuff Matters, the discussion forum and exhibiting group of four women sculptors that I am part of, are in the exhibition too.

January 2020: Opening Matters

Work by L-R Sheila Volmer, Gillian Brent, Alexandra Harley, Sheila Volmer

I am one of four women sculptors from London and the North who have formed the discussion forum and exhibiting group This Stuff Matters. We first met as a group in 2019, through participating in an experimental mixed group show in London – Testing 123…, curated by John Bunker. 

Myself, Jill Gibson, Alex Harley and Sheila Vollmer had our inaugural show and artist talk Opening Matters on 31st January 2020, taking place at @unit3projects, East London. This event was opportunity for the four artists to engage together in critical reflection and debate about new work, and their practice and position as experienced women sculptors in the current contemporary art scene. 

The conversation was recorded and can be found at http://stuff-matters.co.uk

September 2019: ‘What is the Matter? Materials, Commodities, Narratives’

‘Work Life Balance’
steel, acrylic, Valchromat
Dixon’s workshop, Kelham Island Museum, Sheffield

The exhibition by the Material Voice collective at Kelham Island Museum has been a great success, with over 150 people attending the opening and many more visiting. Myself and the six other women artists from the collective have been delighted by the response from museum visitors, other artists and reviewers.

https://www.ourfaveplaces.co.uk/whats-on/what-is-the-matter/What is the Matter?

I presented ‘Work Life Balance’, a work in two parts; a 1.6m sculpture placed amongst the machinery and noise of one of the museum’s workshop displays, and an installation of nearly 200 table knives throughout the reconstruction of a 1916 kitchen.

It was fascinating researching in the museum’s stores and collection and an invigorating experience having such a powerful context to respond to and exhibit work.

Read more here: Material Voice

Detail, ‘Work Life Balance’
knives from the Hawley Collection
1916 kitchen, Kelham Island Museum

August 2019: Material Voice

In 2018 sculptor Sarah Villeneau and I invited five other artists to join us in Material Voice, a collective of Sheffield based women artists www.materialvoice.com

The collective were awarded funding by Making Ways sheffieldcityofmakers.co.uk/category/making-ways for some peer mentoring sessions amongst ourselves and with Nottingham based Curator Abi Spinks.

We then applied successfully for funding from Arts Council England for our first exhibition which is in partnership with Kelham Island Museum in Sheffield simt.co.uk/kelham-island-museum

From 12 – 29 September 2019, sculptural works by artists from the Material Voice collective will be shown amongst the displays at Kelham Island Museum.

How do the resonances of Sheffield’s material history manifest themselves in the globalised and digital world of the 21st century?  How might the voices of women contemporary artists working in Sheffield be understood through explorations and readings of the power of materials to convey aspects of the city’s past, present and future? 

Material Voice have responded to artefacts and stories from the Museum’s displays and collections by making sculptural works that give new perspectives and interpretations.