Prof. Pauline Rose’s professional output

Narrating the Sculptor and her Studio

Seminar – Published 31st May 16

This paper related to my current research for a book on British Women Sculptors. It examined the ways in which interviews with women sculptors ‘narrate’ them and their work in linguistic and photographic form. Women sculptors have not been the subject of biographies to the extent of male artists, but the illustrated interview has offered a way in which their lives could be laid bare to an avid public. Studio homes have been particularly potent sources for journalism, presenting readers with the illusion of ‘getting to know’ the sculptor, and so ordinary objects and situations could become overlain with implied significance. The studio is a special place in which to ‘stage’ art, and despite the sense that these photographs may give us greater access to the sculptor’s thoughts and processes, of course they are carefully calculated presentations. The visual and linguistic presentation of those female sculptors who journalists and critics presented to the public are highly revealing in the ways in which they characterize the sculptors and their environments.
In the instance of male sculptors such images are often proprietorial in nature: they are assertive. This is much less the case in photographs of female sculptors who frequently appear submissive and uncomfortable, and as they are often photographed in their domestic spaces, the distinction between home and studio is deliberately confused. The setting up of these images, and the accompanying texts, often undercut such sculptors’ professionalism through a relentless emphasis on their personal appearance and their domestic responsibilities. There exist many such photographs of British women sculptors – names that today are virtually unknown.