Sculptor at work: Ghisha Koenig and the Representation of Labour

In this evening lecture Dr Danielle Child (Manchester Metropolitan University) and Dr Leanne Green (Whitworth) discuss the work of Ghisha Koenig.

Ghisha Koenig (1921–93) dedicated much of her artistic life to sculpting factory labourers at work in and around St Mary Cray, the first social housing estate built outside of London.

This panel presents two lectures that will address Koenig’s practice. The first, by the exhibition’s curator, Dr Leanne Green, will consider the breadth of Koenig’s commitment to studying and sculpting factory labour. Focusing on the artist’s sculptural interest in the relationship between body and machinery, this discussion will consider Koenig’s work in relation to other artistic representations of work and labour.

Dr Danielle Child will explore Koenig’s initial political motivation for observing, drawing and sculpting working class subjects in the 1950s and throughout her artistic career. Whilst Koenig’s work neither belonged to the current trend, nor the leftist aesthetic, her labelling as ‘unfashionable’ as a reason for her work’s obscuration within art history will be considered in relation to British artistic practice exploring the subject of work contemporaneous to ‘Calendar Shop 1’ (1970).

Dr Leanne Green is Assistant Curator (Fine Art) at Whitworth Art Gallery and curator of the exhibition Ghisha Koenig: Machines Restrict their Movement.

Dr Danielle Child is Lecturer in Art History at Manchester School of Art. She is currently working on her forthcoming book titled Working Aesthetics: Labour, Art and Capitalism (Bloomsbury Academic). Publications include ‘Dematerialisation, Contracted Labour and Art Fabrication: The Deskilling of the Artist in the Age of Late Capitalism’, Sculpture Journal, 24:3 (2015) and ‘The Artist as Project Manager: Thomas Hirschhorn’s Bataille Monument (2002)’, Journal of Arts and Communities 4:3 (2012).

Venue details

Venue address

Henry Moore Institute
The Headrow
United Kingdom
T: 0113 246 7467

Opening times

The Henry Moore Institute will reopen on Tuesday 1 September 2020.

Find out more.