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