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‘A kick in the balls to the male art scene’: Breaking the Mould review

Yorkshire Sculpture Park
The squidgy folds and gelatinous wobbles of work by Rachel Whiteread, Holly Hendry and others are hard to keep your hands off – and tell us much about overcoming sexist attitudes in art

Perhaps it is the pandemic-induced lack of physical contact or the fact that I am alone, unsupervised in an art gallery, but I want to touch everything in Breaking the Mould: Sculpture by Women Since 1945. The squidgy folds of Holly Hendry’s Gut Feelings, the gelatinous wobble of Rachel Whiteread’s Untitled (6 spaces) and the soft, moving sand of Mona Hatoum’s Rotation all tempt me to throw caution to the wind and shove my fingertips in deep, to squeeze, handle and understand these seductive creations from the inside.

Rebellion should not be a surprising reaction when many of the works in this Arts Council Collection exhibition were themselves a kick in the balls to a male-dominated art scene in Britain. Of studying at the Slade in 1961, Jann Haworth said: “The assumption was that, as one tutor put it, ‘the girls were there to keep the boys happy’.” With work by 50 women sculptors, spanning more than 70 years, this group show is a single-finger gesture to Haworth’s Slade tutor.

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