9 January - 8 June 2018
Prize & Prejudice was an exhibition and series of programmes dedicated to artistic ambition, struggles and successes of artists emerging from the Slade School of Fine Art during its foundation years. It explores the experience of prize-winning artists, mostly women, now largely forgotten due to prejudice and circumstance.
Prize & Prejudice is an outcome of a major research project titled Spotlight on the Slade Collections, funded by the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art to increase physical and intellectual access to this important stored collection.
Women swept the prizes in 1918. While this may in itself reflect the impact of war, it was not unusual. From the outset the Slade consistently recognized the achievements of female students through the prize system. The exhibition reveals the type of education received at the Slade, its particular ethos and the nature of the prize-system, using the different prizes as case studies to focus on particular artists.
Prizes were awarded annually from the establishment of the school in 1871 in a range of categories such as Life Drawing, Head Drawing, Drapery and Composition. From 1897, winning works were retained, creating an unparalleled collection of art by emerging artists comprising of 45% women artists. Most public art collections are formed through retrospective assessment of an artist’s career and the Slade collection, assembled without the foreknowledge of their future position in the art world, pre-dates by far the trend in the private sector of collecting work by emerging artists.The exhibition reflects this, placing lesser-known artists alongside well-established ones. Gwen John and Winifred Knights appear next to little known multiple prize-winners Alice Smith, Mabel Greenberg and Dorothy Coke.
The diverse programmes developed in collaboration with artists and researchers aim to bring the voices of the forgotten artists into the exhibition space, using life drawing, performance, screenings and talks. This includes The Spirit of Slade Ladies Past on the evening of February 1st, a performance by artist Tai Shani summoning the voices of the women featured in Prize & Prejudice using the theatricality of the séance.
- Collaboration with Tate British Art Network
This part of the Prize & Prejudice exhibition features highlights from UCL’s Slade Collections selected by members of the British Art Network sub-group British Women Artists 1750 – 1950, a subject specialist network made up of academics, independent scholars and curators, interested in new scholarship and exhibition projects that make women’s artworks more visible and better understood.
The Sub Group has contributed in an advisory capacity for UCL Art Museum, as a focused aspect of Spotlight on the Slade Collections, a Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art funded project to increase access to this historically significant archive of prize-winning student art. Members were invited to participate in a research workshop, as a means of capturing specialist knowledge in regards to the women artists represented in the Slade Collections, to build a greater historical picture of the artists, their contemporaries and their overall experience at the Slade. They helped recover the identity of many now forgotten artists, and hidden narratives underpinning their works. On display are a selection of the works chosen by members, with commentary on their research findings.
Programme changes bi-weekly, with schedule as follows:
9 – 19 January
Elinor Monsell by Helen Downes (Paul Mellon Centre Research Curator, UCL Art Museum)
23 January – 2 February
Jessica Dismorr by Dr Alicia Foster (Writer and Curator)
6 – 16 February
Clara Klinghoffer by Alice Strickland (Curator, Nymans, Standen, Sheffield Park and Garden)
20 February – 2 March
Winifred Knights by Katy Norris (Postgraduate Researcher, Tate & University of Bristol)
6 March – 14 March
Ethel Walker by Katie Herrington (Postdoctoral Researcher, University of York)
15 – 23 March
Ethel Walker by Dr Anne Stutchbury (Independent Curator / Researcher)
24 April – 4 May
Therese Lessore by Dr Meaghan Clarke (Director of Doctoral Studies, U of Sussex, Falmer)
8 – 18 May
Joan Hodes by Una Richmond (PhD Candidate, University of Sussex)
22 May – 1 June
Rosemary Young by Rosanna Eckersley, (Associate Lecturer, Birkbeck College / Open Univ.)
- Prize & Prejudice - in the press
Frieze What Happened to the Women Artists who Won Prizes in 1918? by Rosanna McLaughlin, 14 May 2018
Evening Standard Women's history month: The Slade's prize-winning women artists lost in the gaps of history, by Jessie Thompson, 16 March 2018