March – April 2024: ‘Material Truths’, Scarborough

I am delighted to be showing two sculptures, ‘Not a Swarm’ and ‘Not a Fingerpost’ in this exhibition.

‘Not a Fingerpost’ 2023, steel, oak, Jesmonite and ‘Not a Swarm’, 2023, steel, oak Jesmonite, concrete

MATERIAL TRUTHS – Exploring the Substance of Sculpture 
The materiality of a sculpture affects and impacts on the viewer’s experience and engagement with its presence. The artist’s ideas, purpose, contextual backstory and expression is held in its form, its matter and the space it occupies. Materials and their different qualities will often determine the form and narrative of a work. 

“Truth to Materials” was of fundamental importance to Henry Moore who stated “Every material has its own individual qualities. It is only when the sculptor works direct, when there is an active relationship with his material, that the material can take its part in the shaping of an idea”. 

This is exhibition by Northern and Scottish members of The Royal Society of Sculptors seeks to freely explore individual members’ material truths.

The Old Parcels Office Art Space
Westborough, Scarborough YO11 1TU

Exhibition Dates: 23rd March to 21st April.

Private View 23rd March, 2 – 4 pm.

Curated by Paul Bonomini, Sally Gorham, and Rob Moore.

March 2024: Symposium, York St John University

Exhibition at Vessel, Yorks St John University.
Photo: Peter Griffiths

21st March 2024

I am one of the speakers at the symposium Talking Sculpture: Dialects of Making, a collaboration between Talking Sculpture Making (TSM) and Vessel Gallery at York St John University. This symposium positions a distinctly community-driven and collaborative practice to extend the overdue conversation positioned by the current exhibition in Vessel of the same name. In refusing historical practices which have denied women artists space, the positioning of community building is integral to the ongoing feminist repositioning of abstract sculpture. Talking Sculpture: Dialects of Making supports a national and intergenerational dialogue of abstract sculptors working across the UK today, and holds space for ongoing discussion.

Keynote Speaker: Prof Griselda Pollock, feminist writer and academic.

Speakers: , Dr Victoria Sharples, Artist, curator, academic, Dr Julia McKinley, artist, academic, Natalie Rudd, curator, writer.

Panel: Gillian Brent, Katrina Cowling, Dr Charlotte Cullen, Alexandra Harley, Hannah Honeywill, Sheila Vollmer

Chairs: Becky Gee, curator, Sam Metz, artist, Sarah Roberts, artist, curator.

Hosted at York St John University, the symposium will coincide with, and act as, the closing event for the exhibition ‘Talking Sculpture: Dialects of Making’ at Vessel Gallery. This group exhibition includes Talking Sculpture Making (TSM) members Gillian Brent MRSS, Alexandra Harley MRSS, and Sheila Vollmer MRSS, alongside sculptors Katrina Cowling, Hannah Honeywill MRSS, and Dr Charlotte Cullen MRSS. This national and intergenerational exhibition of abstract sculpture will initiate a material discussion of women making abstract sculpture and situate the public discussion to be held through the symposium.

This method builds on TSM’s commitment to exhibiting as a space to initiate dialogue. These discussions have been recorded and made accessible through TSM’s website. The symposium will continue this action, recording the conversations held within the panel discussions so to reach a further public audience.

This symposium has been made possible with support from the Henry Moore Foundation and York St John University.

December 2023: ‘Talking Sculpture: Dialects of Making’, York

Photo: Peter Griffiths

As a member of Talking Sculpture Making (TSM) I am taking part in a sculpture exhibition at ‘Vessel’, the exhibition space at York St John University, December – March.

The exhibition ‘Talking Sculpture: Dialects of Making’, supported by Vessel in association with Talking Sculpture Making (TSM) brings together a national and intergenerational group of artists working in abstract sculpture. ‘Talking Sculpture‘ forefronts the material investigation and material conditions of making sculpture engaged in formal and material conversations of the medium and reasserts the importance of feminist legacies in understanding the ongoing importance of abstract sculpture. 

I am showing alongside Alexandra Harley, Sheila Vollmer  Katrina CowlingCharlotte Cullen and Hannah Honeywill

Private View: 5-8pm, 7th December
Exhibition open: 
8th – 15th December 2023, 10 – 5. 
8th January – 21 March 2024, 10 – 5.

March 2023: ‘Still Here’, APT Gallery, London

L-R Sculpture by Alexandra Harley, Gillian Brent, Jill Gibson
Photo: Peter Griffiths

I am showing work in ‘Still Here: Women Making Abstract Sculpture‘, an exhibition investigating the position and relevance of women’s abstract sculpture in today’s contemporary art scene. 

The exhibition is presented by This Stuff Matters, an exhibiting group and discussion forum of four women abstract sculptors; myself, Jill Gibson, Alexandra Harley, and Sheila Vollmer. We have invited two early career women sculptors Beatrice Galletley and Anna Reading to join us for this exhibition. 

The exhibition takes place at APT Gallery in Deptford, London, 9th – 26th March 2023, open Thursday to Sunday, 12.00 – 5.00 pm. The private view is on International Women’s Day, 8th March 6 – 8pm

A discussion event in the gallery on 11th March, 2 – 4 pm, has been recorded and is available online.

This Stuff Matters (TSM) was formed in 2019 to share the experiences of the four women artists and to provide and generate support and shared networks. All four artists are critically engaged and have been working and exhibiting individually and with other groups, nationally and internationally, since the 1980s. 

Each artist plays confidently with form, material, colour, space and scale yet each artist’s work is distinct in the use of abstraction and construction. There is a definite sense of a visual language emerging from a female viewpoint. We are all avid feminists, although our work stretches beyond an exploration of feminist issues. The group endeavours to be perceived, first and foremost, as artists, however a feminist perspective is occasionally apparent in the work of individuals. It is the making, the materials and the construction, which is the predominant driving force.

By inviting two younger female sculptors to exhibit works alongside the TSM artists, the exhibition provides a new and exciting dynamic and offers alternative perspectives on how women artists of different generations navigate this particular area of sculpture practice.

The exhibition showcases work which examines sculptural abstraction and considers its importance and relevance today. It is an opportunity to have a broader dialogue with audiences, including artists, students, art historians, academics, gallery visitors and interested parties regarding the history of and future generations of women who make abstract sculpture.

There is still underrepresentation of women working in abstraction, and TSM hope to redress this imbalance with ‘Still Here’. By documenting our roles as women abstract sculptors and by sharing experiences, we hope to augment our voices and provide a valuable platform for mentoring each other collectively.

TSM also aim to celebrate of the lives of women abstract artists and provide a platform for women’s experiences within what is and has been inherently a traditional male dominated area of the visual arts.

TSM intend for the public discussion event, held on 11th March 2023 and the resources that result from it to be a springboard for feedback on our practices as well as help gain an understanding of our positions with an art world that is dominated by image-based and socially engaged art practice and how we fit in the current understanding of identity politics.

‘Somewhere in the 1990s, the artist in her studio took a permanent backseat to the politics of assertion: the declarations of race, sexuality, and class. ‘Preciousness’ became a term used to denigrate abstraction. And yet the qualities it implied were arguably symptomatic of abstraction: a sensitivity to objects, and the disquieting intensity devoted to the process of making them.’

Jenni Sorkin art historian, critic
Associate Professor of Contemporary Art History at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

L-R sculpture by Anna Reading, Sheila Volmer, Beatrice Galletley, Gillian Brent, Jill Gibson and Alexandra Harley.
Photo: Peter Griffiths

December 2022: Final Loudspeaker project

End of Loudspeaker project 17 exhibition

As Associate Artist at Nottingham Contemporary I have been delivering the Loudspeaker programme since 2013. I am very sad to say that the programme has now come to an end of its current funding, with the last project finishing on 1st December 2022. Here is an online version of the final exhibition.

Loudspeaker was a series of 10-week projects, three per year, for women in challenging circumstances, referred by a number of support organisations in the East Midlands. The programme offered free, creative workshops for women to express themselves in a supportive environment, develop self-confidence, resilience, motivation, routine and meet new people through exploring and making contemporary art.

It has been an absolute pleasure to be part of the team delivering this programme, as we constantly developed and refined how we worked in order to best meet the needs of the participants. The participants were always a delight to work with and it was very rewarding to support the development of their skills of art-making and critical thinking, watch their self-esteem increase and listen to their experiences and opinions.

Since 2016 Loudspeaker has been part of the national Building Better Opportunities programme through the Opportunity and Change project which is funded by The National Lottery Community Fund and the European Social Fund.

September 2022: Elected as MRSS

I am delighted to have been elected as a Member of the Royal Society of Sculptors. I feel that being part of this respected institution recognises and validates the decades I have spent making, exhibiting, facilitating others and advocating for sculpture. I am looking forward to making lots of new contacts and having access to the many opportunities the RSS offers its members.

August 2022: The Harley Open 2022

‘Not a Bracket 1’ 2022. Steel, oak, Jesmonite.
Photo: Peter Griffths

I’m very please to have had two works selected for The Harley Open 2022. As the exhibition is only for wall-based work, I decided to make two small wall-based pieces for my submission. It is the first time I’ve made wall-based work for quite a few years and it was interesting to experiment again with this way of thinking about how the sculpture relates to space and architecture.

The exhibition is on 5th August – 23rd October 2022 at the Harley Gallery, Welbeck, Nottinghamshire (near Worksop).

‘Not a Bracket 2’, 2022. Steel, oak, concrete, Jesmonite.
Photo: Peter Griffths

May 2022: Assemble + Schools of Tomorrow – The Place We Imagine

Interpretations of Victorian sewer systems by Y5 children, Jubilee L.E.A.D Academy
Photo: Sam Kirby

As part of my role as an Associate Artist at Nottingham Contemporary, I am one of five artists delivering the gallery’s Schools of Tomorrow programme. I have been artist-in-residence at Jubilee L.E.A.D. Academy in Bilborough, Nottingham since January 2020. I work closely with the same two classes and their teachers, and have done so since they were Year 3; they are now Year 5.

Schools of Tomorrow is a 4-year learning and research programme funded by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, which places artists in residence at eight Nottingham schools. Together, artists and teachers develop approaches to supporting creativity in and beyond the classroom through a process of action-led enquiry.

I am very excited to be part of Schools of Tomorrow’s collaboration with the Turner Prize winning architect and design collective Assemble for the exhibition at Nottingham Contemporary The Place We Imagine . Assemble have created three large-scale play sculptures that fill the galleries, two based on a drawing from 1968 by the Brazilian architect Lina Bo Bardi and one developed in dialogue with children from three of the Schools of Tomorrow schools, including Jubilee L.E.A.D. Academy. These are not ‘please do not touch’ artworks, they are to be interacted with in whatever way gallery visitors, especially children, decide. At a moment when most playgrounds appear to be designed for the kinds of play that adults like to see children do, this project challenges the confines of the gallery space and its uses. It opens up new ways of being in the museum, for children and adults alike. The exhibition also shows moments from Schools of Tomorrow activities that highlight how important play is in the creative and learning process.

November 2021: Working with young Travellers

Detail of seat with made with young Travellers.
galvanised steel, tanalised wood.
Photo: Peter Griffiths

In August 2021, I spent three days in North Acton, London working with children and young people who live on Bashley Road Caravan site.

The children and young people made images in steel that have been constructed together into two seats and a table. The furniture will be permanently installed at the entrance to the Traveller site.

To find out more, please visit the main project page.

This project was initiated and supported by Bollo Studios, (the creative wing of Bollo Brook Youth Centre, in South Acton) and local youth charity JE Delve.

Before being installed at the Traveller site, the seats and table were part of an exhibition ‘Who Are We? Navigating Race, Class and the City’ at Pitzhanger Manor & Art Gallery in Ealing, London, 26th November 2021 – 13th February 2022.

Seats and table in the conservatory at Pitzhanger Manor and Art Gallery