Breaking the Mould: Sculpture by Women since 1945

  • Henry Moore Institute
  • Wednesday, 4 May 2022
  • In-person workshop, 10am - 1pm. Part of our Researching Women in Sculpture Research Season.

In May 2021 the Arts Council Collection touring exhibition Breaking the Mould: Sculpture by Women since 1945 opened to the public. Spanning seventy five years and exploring the work of over forty sculptors, the exhibition marked the first extensive survey of post-war British sculpture by women in a public institution. Breaking the Mould was initiated in response to Women Working in Sculpture from 1960 to the Present Day: Towards a New Lexicon, a research project led by Catherine George (University of Coventry) and Hilary Gresty (independent).

This workshop brings together Natalie Rudd (curator of Breaking the Mould), Hilary Gresty (co-investigator on Women Working in Sculpture from 1960 to the Present Day) and Permindar Kaur (artist and exhibitor in Breaking the Mould) to discuss the development of the research project and exhibition. The speakers will use these projects as a starting point to consider issues around the research, display and acquisition of sculpture by women.

Breaking the Mould: Sculpture by Women since 1945 is currently on display at St Luke’s, The Box, and The Levinsky Gallery, University of Plymouth until 5 June 2022.


10:00amRegistration and refreshments in the Institute’s Board Room
10:15amWelcome from Clare O’Dowd (Research Curator, Henry Moore Institute)
10:30amNatalie Rudd
Introduction to the exhibition development and context of the Arts Council Collection
10:45amHilary Gresty
Introduction to the research project Women Working in Sculpture from 1960 to the Present Day: Towards a New Lexicon
11:00amPermindar Kaur
Artist presentation
11:45am - 12:00pmBreak
12:00 -
Archive handling session in the Research Library looking at material from the Archive of Sculptors’ Papers
1:00 -
Lunch and opportunity to visit the Gallery 4 exhibition Archive Lives: Documenting Women’s Sculptural Practices in Britain, 1939-1960 and Library Display The Show Must Go On: Exhibiting Sculpture by Women in Twentieth-Century Britain


Family Collections and Scattered Archives

We are also running a second archival workshop in the afternoon, 2-5pm, following on from this event.

The workshop will examine the important role played by family collections and archives in researching sculpture by women and the challenges posed by dispersed or missing archive material.

Speakers include Thalia Allington-Wood, Will Rea and Rosamund Lily West.

Find out more


About the speakers

Hilary Gresty is an independent researcher, art historian and curator with special interest in women’s sculptural practice. Hilary has worked in visual arts for over thirty years, beginning her career as the Curator of Kettle’s Yard, University of Cambridge from 1983-89. Before then, she was a librarian at Windsor Castle and the Tate Gallery. Hilary has an MPhil from the Courtauld Institute of Art (1983) and more recently has undertaken research into women working in sculpture in Britain from the 1960s to the present day.

Permindar Kaur is a sculpture/ installation artist, whose approach to art is playful, using childlike objects to explore the territory of cultural identity, home and belonging. She uses simple forms, for instance furniture (beds, cots and chairs) and toys (soft, brightly coloured figures, trucks and animal forms). These objects resemble displaced domestic belongings, which have been distorted and manipulated to invoke the uncanny. They are deceptively familiar in their appearance and initially might remind the viewer of innocence, childhood and play belying their sinister undertones.

Kaur has exhibited internationally; major solo exhibitions include Home, 5 Howick Place, London, SW1P 1WG (2020-21); Interlopers, University of Hertfordshire (2016); Hiding Out, Djanogly Art Gallery, Nottingham Lakeside Arts (2014); Untitled, Berwick Gymnasium Art Gallery, Berwick (1999) and Cold Comfort, Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, Mead Gallery, Coventry (1996). Major group exhibitions include Breaking the Mould: Sculpture by Women since 1945 (2021) Arts Council Collection & UK tour; Ikon in the 90s, Ikon Gallery (2021); Animals & Us, Turner Contemporary (2018); A Vision of Utopia, Spirella Building, Letchworth (2014); At Home with Art, Tate Britain, London and touring (2000); Hot Air, Granship, Shizouka Arts Centre, Japan (1999); Pictura Britannica, Art from Britain, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, Australia (1997); British Art Show, Manchester, Edinburgh, Cardiff (1995). Permindar Kaur completed her MA at Glasgow School of Art, she lives and works in the UK.

Natalie Rudd is a curator and writer. In her former role as Senior Curator of the Arts Council Collection, Natalie curated many touring exhibitions including Breaking the Mould: Sculpture by Women since 1945. Natalie has written widely on art including monographic texts on Peter Blake, Tess Jaray, Paul de Monchaux and Veronica Ryan. Her latest book, The Self-Portrait, is published by Thames & Hudson. Natalie is currently a Midlands4Cities PhD researcher at the University of Birmingham, exploring precariousness in British sculpture, 1978-93.

Researching Women in Sculpture

This event forms part of our Researching Women in Sculpture season, which runs from March to September 2022.

Researching Women in Sculpture reflects upon women's contribution to the field of sculpture, investigating archival and collecting practices that have historically obscured work by women and suggesting strategies for how these might be addressed going forward.

Find out more about our Researching Women in Sculpture Research Season

Venue details

Venue address

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

Opening times

Galleries: Tuesday to Sunday, 10am - 5pm

Research Library: Monday to Saturday, 10am - 5pm; Sunday, 1 - 5pm
Archive of Sculptors' Papers: Tuesday to Friday, by prior appointment