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Hepworth’s Progeny: Generations of Women in Sculpture in Britain — Lives, Work, Careers and Social Change 1960-2021

From September 2021, The Hepworth Wakefield is hosting a year-long research project, in collaboration with art historian Griselda Pollock and sculptor Lorna Green, titled Hepworth’s Progeny: Generations of Women in Sculpture in Britain — Lives, Work, Careers and Social Change 1960-2021.

The Hepworth Wakefield, working with Yorkshire based curatorial researchers Dr Anna Frances Douglas and Dr Kerry Harker, will revisit and take forward Lorna Green’s study, completed in 1989, of 249 women working in the expanding field of sculpture.

Working with questionnaires initially submitted by 249 participants, the researchers are analysing these responses in order to generate a comparative study, recruiting a new cohort of contemporary women sculptors working in Britain today.

The ambition of this new feminist research project, which acknowledges the entanglements of age, class, gender, ethnicity, sexuality, neurosensory diversity and other factors, is to study how the conditions that shape women’s creative lives and aesthetic choices have shifted over the last 30 years. The research will also touch on changes in the situation for funding, display and critical reception of art by women.

This exciting project will generate new narratives around women’s experiences in art. It will inform an exhibition and events programme in March 2023, and a report of the findings will be published online.

The research is funded by a donation from the Holberg Prize awarded to Professor Griselda Pollock in 2020 for her work in feminist studies in the visual arts and art history, and to foster extended research in this field. The project will be guided by an Advisory Board of Griselda Pollock, Lorna Green, The Hepworth Wakefield’s curator Eleanor Clayton, sculptors Sokari Douglas Camp and Jill McKnight, and independent art historian Dr. Alice Correia.

‘This collaboration between the sculptor Lorna Green and The Hepworth Wakefield is made possible through funds from my Holberg Prize award, to continue my feminist and postcolonial research into the creativities and experiences of women. Given the richness of sculptural practices by women and changes in culture and society over the last 3 decades, I hope that revisiting Green’s findings and the sculptors who participated, alongside new research into the situations and perspectives of women sculptors now, will yield very important and fascinating understanding of continuities and differences, changes and insights into the field of practice, diversity, possibility and as ever persistent inequalities and difficulties created by issues of class, ethnicity and age as much as gender.’ Griselda Pollock


Kerry Harker

Dr Kerry Harker is Leeds-based curator, writer and researcher. She is the Founder and Artistic Director of the East Leeds Project (2017- ) a visual arts organisation based in Gipton. Previously she was Co-founder and Co-director of Project Space Leeds (2006- ); Co-founder and inaugural Artistic Director at The Tetley centre for contemporary art (2013-15); Curator of Exhibitions for Harewood House Trust (2008-11); and Interim Director of The Art House in Wakefield (2015-16). She has co-curated sculpture projects by and with women including Rachel Adams, Rebecca Birch, Emma Bolland, Bronwen Buckeridge, Laura Buckley, Natalie Finnemore, Laura Ford, Lubaina Himid and Susan Walsh, Diane Howse, Lizzie Hughes, Sophie Lascelles, Delaine Le Bas, Kelly McCallum, Laura Morrison, Amy Stephens and Rehana Zaman among others. She completed her PhD in the School of Fine Art, History of Art & Cultural Studies at the University of Leeds in 2021, where her research focused on questions of value and values in relation to artist-led initiatives in the UK since the 1990s.

Anna Douglas

Dr Anna Douglas is a curator, researcher and educator based in Leeds. Her curatorial projects offer audiences imaginative ways of engaging with intangible heritage, memory and material culture, that in recent years has involved re-working archives and collections of photographs, as well as regional residential architectural histories, often through participation.  Her exhibition and book ‘Shirley Baker: Women and Children; and Loitering Men’ was commissioned by The Photographer’s Gallery, London (2015), touring to Madrid’s PhotoEspagne festival (2016) and Manchester International Festival at the Manchester Art Gallery (2017) where it attracted record attendance.  Her research interests are in exhibitions as sites and processes of meaning-making, and in the representation and legitimation of non-professional cultural practices in museums and art galleries as well as other non-institutional locations.

Hepworth’s Progeny: Generations of Women in Sculpture in Britain — Lives, Work, Careers and Social Change 1960-2021 . A Report by Anna Douglas and Kerry Harker

This exciting project generates new narratives around women’s experiences in art. It informs an exhibition, If Not Now When, and related events programme, and a report of the findings is now published online (see below).

Hepworth’s Progeny report (pdf).