Newnham College will host the feminist art showAnna Menin

This evening will see the launch of Newnham College’s inaugural feminist art exhibition at the Old Labs, entitled ‘A Revolutionary At Heart’: Experiments in the Female Gaze.

Organised and curated by Newnham undergraduate students Vera Chapiro, Christie Costello, and Isabella Rosner as the newly-formed Newnham Curatorial Collective, the project aims to “focus on the female gaze” as “a conscious facet of…activist action”.

The exhibition features a diverse range of work by female artists from mainly within the college, including collage poems, video art, oil and watercolour paintings, and embroidery and textile art, as well as access to a collection of women’s art books, feminist zines, and early women’s texts from Newnham Library’s Rare Books Collection.

These will be accompanied tonight by a live portrait artist and live music performances by pianist Esther Ho, singer-songwriter Clara van Wel, and DJ Grace Brown.

In a foreword to the exhibition catalogue, Collective member Christie Costello describes the aim of the exhibition as to be an “activist intervention in the contemporary art world, creating positive feminist change by platforming and supporting the voices of women and non-binary artists at Newnham College”.

“The contemporary art world is often denigrated as the realm of the self-indulgent rich, a foundering structure of late capitalism…. It doesn’t have to be that way: making art, writing about art, curating art and even just thinking about art can all be valid methods of activism.

Indeed, the catalogue provides extracts by the artists themselves speaking on, among other topics, the role of politics and feminism in their artwork. Final-year Classicist Isabella Luta, whose collage poems “[reflect] on theories of surveillance culture and feminist responses to it”, cites an extract from Margaret Atwood’s novel ‘The Robber Bride’ as inspirational to her work and to the theme of the exhibition in general: “Male fantasies, male fantasies, is everything run by male fantasies? … You are a woman with a man inside watching a man. You are your own voyeur.”

Other featured artists include first-year Historian Grace Whorrall-Campbell, Theology finalist Gwendolyn Dupré, English student Olivia Scott-Berry, Law student Myranda Lai, and History of Art students Isabella Rosner, Christine Pungong, and the duo AYDUA (Amy Murgatroyd and India Ayles). The event is sponsored by the Newnham Associates and the Newnham Art and Photography Society.

The exhibition will open at 6pm, and will run until Sunday 24th April. Entry is free, with an optional £1 donation on the door that will go to the Cambridge Rape Crisis Centre.

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