Women In Revolt! The Exhibition Celebrating The Power Of Feminist Art
This month, Tate Britain in London unveils a major exhibition of feminist art in the UK. Women In Revolt! Art, Activism And The Women’s Movement In The UK 1970-1990 comprises painting, drawing, photography, textiles, film, sculpture and archival materials by 100 women artists, including Chila Kumari Burman, Sonia Boyce, Maud Sulter, Margaret Harrison and Gina Birch.
Women In Revolt! depicts an era of seismic social change for women, including key events such as the Miss World protests in 1970, the formation of the social feminist organisation Brixton Black Women’s Group, the advent of punk and the impact of the AIDS epidemic.
For its curators, the motivation was simple: to platform the work of an entire generation of women and pay homage to their activism and creativity in the face of oppression.
“So much of the art and activism from this time has been exhibited through archives, independent galleries, grassroots organisations… but a lot of it has never been shown in a major institutional exhibition before,” says Hannah Marsh, assistant curator of contemporary British art at Tate, referring to artists including Poulomi Desai and Shirley Cameron. “Women at this time were not given the institutional recognition they deserved. It is so important that these histories are included in our understanding of British art and social history, and that these voices are heard and recorded, and are easily accessible to the public.”
Many of the artists and collectives featured played a key part in driving cultural and political change for women. One example is the Organisation of Women of African and Asian Descent, a pioneering feminist campaign group founded in 1978. “OWAAD’s presence is deeply felt in the exhibition, through archival material but also visually through the organisation’s artistic production,” says Marsh. “It served as a tool for bringing about political change; creating banners, paintings, cartoons, writing and photography to expound the political.”
Ultimately, says Marsh, the power of this exhibition lies in the continued relevance of the art today. “The concerns the show addresses are, in many cases, far from resolved,” she says. “We want audiences to feel as inspired by these women as we have felt. Their fearlessness, care, solidarity and the very real impact they had socially.”
Women In Revolt! runs at Tate Britain until 7 April 2024
Katie Teehan is Editorial Director at Service95
SUPPORT THE MINERS, Solidarity Will Win! (1984) © Alison Lloyd; Gina Birch, still from 3 Minute Scream (1979) courtesy of the artist; See Red Women’s Workshop (1974-1990), 7 Demands (1974); See Red Women’s Workshop (1974-1990), Protest (1974)