‘We Are Still Here’, 2021

View of ‘We Are Still Here’. Sculpture by Jill Gibson, Alexandra Harley, Sheila Vollmer and Gillian Brent. Photo: Peter Griffiths

‘We Are Still Here – Four Women Making Abstract Sculpture’, was a pop-up show in Sheffield in October 2021. The venue was the gallery at Exchange Place Studios, Yorkshire Artspace.

Since TSM 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 dyed-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 invited Meghan Goodeve curator, educator and artists’ development 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?

You can listen to recordings of the discussion and read the transcript here.

A slideshow of images of the exhibition. Music by Reuben Griffiths.