1 December 2023

If Not Now, When at The Saatchi Gallery

Those of you know me well will know I roll my eyes and sigh every time I hear there's a women's thing on. Hence why I wasn't going to bother with this show at the Saatchi until 22 Jan 2024. Ah, but I'm always up for a free tour, so I went along and was pleasantly surprised by the content of this show. By which I mean the quality of the work, the ideas, the execution, not the 'what it is to be a woman' stuff, which I can never understand unless you also have had experience of being a man and can compare the two!

The show emphasises how women have struggled to be seen and heard in the art world throughout the decades, specifically since the 1960s. As you can see from my pics here, there's an emphasis on childbirth, body parts and restrictive clothing. I am still confused as to whether these women are boasting or complaining (a question I often ask when someone tells me they have a hangover after a big night or had to do [paid] overtime!). 
I probably find it hard to empathise because I have always worked in a male-dominated world, first for my father at his upholstery shop, dealing directly with sometimes stroppy customers as well as his boisterous friends in the pub, and then in the world of advertising and print where the air was often blue – if you didn't give back as good as you were given, or manage the situation there and then, then you'd simply fail. Don't be a mouse etc. I recall one print rep who was particularly colourful with his language. He was asked by my male colleague to tone it down. The fella assumed the reason was because I was there. He looked at me and said "oh yeah, mustn't swear, there's C*** here" – Unbelievable! Nobody laughed. We were all gobsmacked by him. He certainly didn't win any work for his company.
You might think idiots like that rep are made up creations for 1980's movies and dramas, but no, these characters were common and banter like that was considered amusing, if only to their peer group. I used to sometimes deliver items for print to the newspaper offices on Fleet Street and the uncouth things that were said to me because I was an 18-yr old blue-eyed blonde, beggared belief. Even at the time I thought these men were pathetic, all trying to outdo each other to be the biggest, rudest, puffed shirt. I wondered if there was a prize for who could say the F-word the most times in one sentence. Bless em! It must be hard being a man sometimes; competing with other men, jostling for attention, rutting and strutting and guzzling pints. here's an idea – the Saatchi could put on a show for men who feel they aren't powerful in today's world; my wife doesn't understand me; she thinks I'm an idiot, etc

But back to the ladies. I researched this females in art thing early last year whilst pulling together an online talk about women who are commemorated by statues in London; Nightingale, Seacole, Pankhurst, Cavell etc. I noticed that most of the memorials were created by male artists which seemed odd, and rather ironic. So I started 'collecting' women sculptors across London, expecting there to be a just a handful, and the list keeps getting longer. It's worth considering that many of the female artists whose work adorns our streets were active well before WW2 and I'm not sure they'd like to be considered as hampered by their sex. 

For example, and just picking a few ladies that come immediately to mind, we have Kathleen Scott near Carlton Terrace, Liz Frink and Irene Sedlecka in Mayfair, Karin Jonzen and Cristina Iglesias in The City, Barbara Hepworth in Oxford Street, Gillian Wearing in Parliament Square, Maggi Hambling in Charing Cross and Emily Young all over the place! 

I really should reinstate that talk, but I still need to work out how to condense it into one hour. Ditto the walking tours designed as three distinct routes, but I keep getting distracted. For instance, it's taken me ages just to write this blog post. I often say that I need about seven parallel universes just to finish all the stuff I've started, let alone walk the walks, read the books, and see other things myself.

1 comment:

  1. I would champion Wendy Taylor, whose work include Dove of Peace and Timepiece. I don't think she has ever done sculptures of people but she does have more sculptures being looked at in the UK than any other living sculptor.


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