Act I: Body en Thrall: Rugby Art Gallery & Museum, Rugby, UK

12 February - 23 April 2022

Rugby Art Gallery and Museum presents the first major public display of the GIRLPOWER and Marcelle Joseph Collections in the UK.  Shown alongside a selection of works from our own collection, this exhibition invites the viewer to consider the philosophy of a collection.  One is a public collection, and the other two are private.

The Rugby Collection of modern and contemporary art was founded in 1946 to collect artists of ‘promise and renown’.  It now holds over 250 artworks and over the last 20 years has sought to address issues of underrepresentation within the collection by focusing on gender, sexual, and racial identity.  The featured private collections are of a similar size and showcase artwork made predominantly by early-career female-identifying artists. Collected over the last decade, the artworks in the two private collections explore the performance of gendered identity and representation, primarily through the depiction of the feminine body.  

Body en Thrall takes its title from Martine Guttierez’s (b.1989, USA) 2018 series of work that critiques the social enactment of self, gender, and femininity. The body is central to how we understand the many components that make up our identity, including gender, race, ethnicity, class, and sexuality.  The way we behave and how we chose to express ourselves is shaped from the society and culture in which we live and can either align with or rebel against social conventions.  The artists on display explore identity through representations of the body, often their own, as well as other objects and the environment.

Gendered bodily experience is at the forefront of this exhibition which brings together three collections in a new display of work made by 47 womxn artists between 1970, the dawn of feminist theory, and 2021.  In doing so, we seek to question how collecting can perform its own identity politics through the choice of works that it collects, whilst examining femininity and selfhood.


Rugby Collection Artists: Maggi Hambling, Linda Ingham, Kelly Jayne, Claudette Johnson, Glenys Johnson, Paula Rego, Emilie Taylor, Gillian Wearing, Evelyn Williams and Laetitia Yhap.


Marcelle Joseph Collection Artists: Aimée Parrott, Alexi Marshall, Alicia Reyes McNamara, Anna Perach, Anousha Payne, Athena Papadopoulos, Bea Bonafini, Charlotte Edey, Cheyenne Julien, Cristina Banban, Eileen Cooper, Florence Peake, Gabriella Boyd, Grace  Woodcock, Holly Stevenson, Jessie Makinson, Kira Freije, KOAC, Lindsey Mendick, Lise Stoufflet, Marlene Steyn, Martine Gutierrez, Natalia Gonzalez-Martin, Penny Goring, Rithika Pandey, Saelia Aparicio, Zoe Williams, and Zsófia Keresztes


GIRLPOWER Collection Artists: Ad Minoliti, Amalia Ulman, Caterina Silva, Chelsea Culprit, Emma Talbot, France-Lise McGurn, Jakob Lena Knebl, and Rebecca Ackroyd.