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SU RICHARDSON ‘Wonderwoman' - 3D virtual exhibition by RICHARD SALTOUN GALLERY

SU RICHARDSON ‘Wonderwoman'

Sat, 08/01/2020 to Mon, 08/31/2020

curated by:

A pioneer of 1970s Feminist Art, Su RICHARDSON played a key role in revalidating craft as a fine art form and its potential as a means of disrupting the white cube aesthetic. Simultaneously celebrating, exploiting and subverting feminine craft skills such as crocheting and embroidery, Richardson’s homemade objects stir the unconscious of domesticity and femininity and their mutual implications with
humour and dexterity.

Richardson became known through her association with the Postal Art Event that took place in Britain in the mid-1970s. What started as a collaborative project to connect women in different cities through exchange of artworks in the post gradually evolved into a ground-breaking art project ‘Feministo’ and a series of exhibitions and installations around the U.K., including the acclaimed presentation ‘Portrait of the Artist as Housewife’ at the ICA, London in 1977.

Richardson’s D.I.Y. aesthetic took feminist art in the 1970s in different directions - fitting her art practice around motherhood, work and household tasks. Her use of crochet was deliberate - traditionally considered a woman’s skill that Richardson aimed to politicise and imbue with greater meaning. Artworks from this period were made out of self-reflection, with several pieces created for herself and friends. They were not intended as standalone, anonymous art objects to be ‘elevated’ into a fine art context and removed from the domestic and personal sphere.

Her humorously subversive aesthetic anticipated contemporary countercultures and movements that combined craft with street art, such as yarn bombing and guerrilla knitting, and was a precursor to a younger generation of female British artists who combined visual puns with domestic objects, including perhaps most notably Sarah Lucas in her seminal works Self Portrait with Fried Egg (1996) or Pauline Bunny (1997). By injecting familiar household objects, like eggs, nylons and stiletto shoes, into art aided the process of defamiliarisation and what art historian Alexandra Kokoli has coined ‘undoing homeliness’ destabilising the naturalised connection between women and the home.

Richard Saltoun’s online exhibition ‘Su RICHARDSON: Wonderwoman’ features many of Richardson’s key works from the 1970s, presented alongside new pieces created for the show. The works continue to play on ideas of craft, memory, childhood, friendships and motherhood while introducing a new direction in Richardson’s work that deals with ageing and the facelessness of older women. These new pieces,
including one of only four life-size pieces ever created by the artist, were realised at the start of a UK-wide lockdown brought on by the international outbreak of Covid-19, which provided Richardson with a unique period of time to begin making again and offered a revitalised moment of self-reflection, now from the perspective of a 73-year-old woman rather than a young mother.

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