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Concerning Ourselves
Sharron Lea reviews the womens' group show Concerning Ourselves for Spare Rib, 1981

22 June - 8 July
Norwich School of Art

I found that the exhibition's overall mixing of unconventional visual images with type/handwritten statements in a manner defying traditionaI typographic layout was, at times, disjointed and disturbing. But, women's lives are disjointed, our stories are fragmented. Some untitled works consisting of arrangements of broken pottery, twigs and dried leaves in dried paper were able to portray women's experiences as powerfully and truthfully as a lifeless concrete skyscraper can reflect male consciousness.

Images of the moon, the sea, and written thoughts about dreams: -'tidal rhythms, and internal body time seen in patterns of elation and depression; dreaming; creativity; periodicity. . . building a picture of our own time' were part of Water into Wine. Other works, with evocative titles, such as Red Running Woman' and Red Energy Dance also celebrated menstruation and expressed herstory. Blown-up photographs of pages of text from Adrienne Rich's On Lies, Secrets and Silences and images af women erecting huts and wigwams from Elizabeth Weatherford's article, 'Women's Traditional Architecture', from Heresies, both physically and emotionally juxtapased the transitory and naturally formed menstrual hut, a large white, pebble, shell, reed, pine-cone and paper, warm, womblike and peaceful environment. The hut was the culmination of menstrual celebration; the building of it concerning the whole group who collected reeds, tied them into bundles and formed a semi-rigid skeleton, over which was laid thirteen sheets of hand made paper. In open discussion evenings, called Identifying Each Other, the artists talked about the differing needs they all felt for a woman's space, for individual peace or celebratory coming together. It was distressing to waik away realising that this hut and many other women's spaces n the western world are so temporanily contained within man-made structures. The artists wish it to be known that they made a conscious decision to remain unamed in reference to individual pieces of work, wishing Concerning Ourselves to be seen as an integrated group exhibition.

Sharron Lea
Spare Rib
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Review of 'Concerning Ourselves' in Spare Rib, 1981
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