This is the second of a two-part display showcasing important holdings relating to women’s sculptural practices in the Henry Moore Institute and Leeds Museums and Galleries’ interdisciplinary collections.
Accounts of British sculpture in the 1950s and 1960s have typically focused on the influence of Anthony Caro’s teaching on the Advanced Sculpture course at St Martin’s School of Art, where he championed abstract constructed sculpture and led the shift from carving to welding. While a small number of women were admitted to study at St Martin’s, many later recalled having been subjected to overt sexism in a highly male-dominated environment. Women were similarly at a disadvantage in exhibition contexts, where they were heavily outnumbered by male artists, particularly in the growing number of survey exhibitions dedicated to contemporary sculpture. It was only in the late 1970s with the advent of the women’s movement that this situation began to be contested, leading to a number of all-women exhibitions.
Drawing on this historical and cultural context, Archive Lives Part 2 presents the work of five women who attended art school in the 1950s and 1960s and were connected through selected galleries and exhibitions in the 1970s and 1980s: Shelagh Cluett (1947-2007), Liliane Lijn (b. 1939), Kim Lim (1936-1997), Wendy Taylor (b. 1945) and Gillian Wise (1936-2020).
Celebrating a diversity of practices, this display provides a space to re-evaluate women’s contributions to sculpture in Britain over a period of thirty years.