This PhD project will investigate the contribution made by women to British sculpture between 1978 and 1993. These transformative years witnessed increasing visibility for women at a time of significant sculptural innovation, from the emergence of New British Sculpture to the rise of ‘young British art’. Embracing the work of a diverse range of artists, this inclusive study will move beyond preconceptions of women as emulators, reinstating women as pioneers, driving new approaches to sculpture.
This project will analyse how a generation of women harnessed the potential of malleable materials such as flowers, textiles and biological matter to interrogate issues of precarity and vulnerability. It will investigate a range of destabilising working methods and display strategies from decay, desiccation and destruction to leaning, balancing and dangling. The employment of salvage processes suggests frugality and limited resources but also highlights the creative potential of recovery. The research will include a reappraisal of overlooked artists, whose contributions deserve greater recognition. It will also analyse the relationship between sculptural precarity and art world marginalization experienced by many women working across this period.