Seminar participants explore archival material from the Women’s Art Library. i Women's Art Library

Group Work: Contemporary Art and Feminism

Group Work: Contemporary Art and Feminism explores the legacies and histories of group work in art since the 1970s, with a focus on feminist practices. This research project asks what would a (feminist) art history look like if it refused to tell a history of individual artists? And how did the collectivity inherent in much feminist organising in the 1970s and 1980s feed into artistic practice? Thinking through the legacies of consciousness-raising in art, as well as other political group work that intersect with feminist politics, including the peace movement, anti-racist and women of colour activism, and lesbian, gay and transgender activism, Group Work has run seminars and workshops since 2019. Further details can be found here.

The group is led by Dr Catherine Grant (Reader and Vice-Dean for Education, Courtauld Institute of Art), Dr Amy Tobin (Associate Professor in the History of Art, University of Cambridge and Curator, Contemporary Projects, Kettle’s Yard) and Dr Rachel Warriner (British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow, Courtauld Institute of Art).

2022

Group Work and Chelsea Space are pleased to announce that the publication Responding to Women and Creativity is now available as a pdf and a risograph pamphlet. Responding to Women and Creativity starts with Annabel Nicolson’s work Women and Creativity (1978-80), and compiles responses given to a series of questions about creativity from a number of contemporary artists, writers and curators. The research into Nicolson’s work was the subject of a Group Work workshop at Chelsea Space in March 2021.

Responding to Women and Creativity includes a facsimile copy of Annabel Nicolson’s article “Women Talking”, first published in Feminist Arts News (FAN) in 1982. There is an introduction to the project by Catherine Grant, and a series of responses to the following questions:

What helps your creative work?

What hinders your creative work?

When you read the extracts from Annabel Nicolson’s tapes in the article “Women Talking”, do you see similarities with your own situation in 2021?

Do you think it is still important for women artists and other feminist cultural practitioners to share their strategies for enabling creative practice?

Some of Annabel Nicolson’s respondents discussed whether they needed isolation to work, is this important to you?

Many thanks to those who responded: Louise Ashcroft, Beth Bramich, Lauren Craig, Amy Dickson, Oriana Fox, Melissa Gordon, Catherine Grant, Faye Green, Deniz Johns, Abbe Leigh Fletcher, Helena Reckitt, Selina Robertson and Rachel Warriner.

Download the pdf version of the publication:

Copies of the risograph pamphlet are available from Chelsea Space shop

Copies will also be held at the Women’s Art Library, Special Collections, Goldsmiths Library, free whilst stocks last.

2021

A workshop organised by Catherine Grant, Amy Tobin and Rachel Warriner from the Group Work: Contemporary Art and Feminism research network, hosted by Chelsea Space on Thursday 25th March, 2021.

In response to the archival traces of Annabel Nicolson’s “Women and Creativity” tapes (1978-80), the workshop considered the relevance of these recordings for feminist art and writing today. Made by Nicolson in the late 1970s, the tapes document a series of interviews made by women artists, asking them what helped and hindered their creative practice. The recordings were then played in listening sessions, with Nicolson presenting extracts to small audiences.

Following a similar process, the workshop was split into two sections — the first with presentations from the organisers and the artists Marysia Lewandowska and Rehana Zaman, giving context to the session, including a series of responses to the questions raised by Nicolson in the original recordings.

The second section invited all workshop participants to respond to the questions around women and creativity from their own perspective, with time to work in small groups, and share ideas and experiences.

This workshop was supported by the Association for Art History and Chelsea Space. Dialogues is a programme of events, talks and screenings that will take place online during 2021, as we navigate the altered world around us. Devised in collaboration between Camberwell, Chelsea and Wimbledon Spaces, Dialogues will be hosted remotely and connected via Chelsea Space and UAL platforms.

2020

Feminist Curating and Group Exhibitions workshop – 26 June 2020

Groupwork produced three videos with curators Abi Shapiro, Karen Di Franco & Irene Revell and Irene Aristizábal, and Rosie Cooper & Cédric Fauq, in which they discuss the group exhibitions they have worked on.

You can watch these videos on the Group Work Youtube channel

2021

Group Work in the Women’s Art Library – Friday March 6th 2020

We are happy to share the audio of the presentations from this workshop. This workshop was led by Althea Greenan, curator of the Women’s Art Library, along with Lauren Craig and Gina Nembhard. As members of X Marks the Spot, an art and archive research collective, Craig and Nembhard have explored the Women of Colour Index held at the Women’s Art Library, as well as the Jo Spence archive.

Workshop members examined material in the Women’s Art Library and considered how archivists, artists and activists have sought to creatively engage with the collection. The workshop explored questions around how to approach collaborative practice through its archival traces.

The Women’s Art Library is a unique collection of material on women artists, with a growing programme of creative interventions by artists, curators, writers and archivists. It is held in the Special Collections, Goldsmiths Library, Lewisham Way, New Cross, London, SE14 6NW. This workshop was funded by the Association for Art History, the British Art Network and Goldsmiths Art Department Research Support Award. It was organised by Catherine Grant (Goldsmiths), Amy Tobin (University of Cambridge) and Rachel Warriner (Courtauld Institute of Art).

Listen to the audio recordings:
Dr Althea Greenan (Women’s Art Library curator)
Lauren Craig and Gina Nembhard (members of X Marks the Spot)

2019

Group Work Seminar: Professor Juliet Mitchell in conversation with Professor Mignon Nixon – Thursday 21st November 

Professor Juliet Mitchell will discuss “Siblings, Their Heirs and Others on the Social, Horizontal Axis”, presenting a short paper followed by a conversation with Professor Mignon Nixon.

This seminar is part of the research project “Group Work: Contemporary Art and Feminism”, which explores the legacies and histories of group work in art since the 1970s, with a focus on feminist practices. Organised by Catherine Grant (Goldsmiths), Amy Tobin (Cambridge), and Rachel Warriner (Courtauld Institute of Art).

Supported by the Centre for Visual Culture, University of Cambridge.

UN/Common Ritual – Wednesday 29 May 2019

This event focuses on Barbara McCullough’s pioneering short film Water Ritual 1: An Urban Rite of Purification (1979) including a screening of the film. Rizvana Bradley (History of Art and African-American Studies, Yale University) will give a presentation on the work, introducing its themes and ideas. This will be followed by a conversation with Amy Tobin (Kettle’s Yard and History of Art, University of Cambridge) which will consider its relationship to feminism, collectivity, and ecology.

This will be the second event of the Group Work Network which considers the ways in which collectivity and collaboration supports practice. It is kindly sponsored by the Centre for American Art, Courtauld Institute of Art. Group Work events are co-organised by Catherine Grant, Amy Tobin and Rachel Warriner.

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