‘Still Here: Women Making Abstract Sculpture’ was a three week exhibition in March 2023. It took place at APT Gallery, Deptford London and there were opportunities to get feedback from visitors at a public discussion event and a Crit.
TSM invited two early career women sculptors Beatrice Galletley and Anna Reading to join them for this exhibition. Their work and input was invaluable in widening the exhibition’s reach in its examination of sculptural abstraction and considering its importance and relevance today.
It was also an opportunity to have a broader dialogue with audiences, including artists, curators, students, academics and gallery visitors regarding the history and future generations of women who make abstract sculpture.
You can listen to recordings of the public discussion event here.
Still here – Still learning – Still connecting
Meghan Goodeve, curator, educator and artist development
This exhibition brings together six artists connected by sculpture, abstraction and their gender. Four of these are part of the collective This Stuff Matters – a group of women who provide peer support and are impressively still here. To be making work five, ten, twenty, forty years into a career is an achievement for any artist; the art world does little to support artists. To navigate this as a woman, starting a career in the 1980s, is a greater achievement still.
Over a year ago, I chaired a conversation with This Stuff Matters. Amongst other subjects, we discussed each of their experiences at art school, how sculpture departments were largely a male domain and tutors and visiting artists were (mostly) male. While art schools today have evolved there is still a need for shows like this where artists across generations connect and support one another. This exhibition does exactly that through the collective inviting early career artists Beatrice Galletley and Anna Reading to show alongside them. This gesture works to disrupt the still limiting constructs of the arts, and specifically sculpture, creating systems of support that centre on artist-to-artist dialogue sitting outside of conventional education or career development models. This isn’t a new approach but it is an approach that still matters.
Putting ‘Still Here’ into context
Sarah Knight, BA Art History student, University of St Andrews, Scotland
Assumptions surrounding the sculptural genre and female artists have repeatedly placed limitations upon women, from sculpture being labelled a masculine art form, to women being associated with the decorative and domestic. Ignored in conversations of innovation, experimentation and genius, women have been repeatedly categorised and dismissed. In spite of such limitations, and in opposition to the assumptions they support, women sculptors have in actuality displayed great accomplishment, demonstrated in their ability to manipulate materials and create original forms. Such responses to materiality are evident in the construction processes of the members of TSM, working confidently with form, material, colour and space. Their prioritisation of experimental creative processes, alongside exploration of the organic, flux, and stasis aligns with prominent attributes associated with sculpture by women. Their simple act of taking up space is in itself important – claiming agency of this space and making it one of togetherness continues to hold particular significance for female artists who have historically been denied it.
TSM necessitate and contribute towards this discussion of woman’s place in abstract sculpture throughout their practices, from the works they produce to their acts of collaboration. Simply by creating abstract sculptural forms, they challenge assumptions and necessitate the continuation of this discussion.
The exhibition booklet with information about the six artists.