Bridgeman Editions X Plinth

Suffragette City

18–22 September 2019

Suffragette City sees works from artists including Gillian Wearing, Bella Freud, Guler Ates, Cornelia Parker, Carolina Mazrahi, Carinthia West and Fiona Banner engage with questions raised by London itself – as diverse, and as poignantly specific, as its inhabitants. Exhibiting as part of London Design Festival’s programme in Brompton Design District, Suffragette City strives to look futurewards by repositioning the past.

Artist Gillian Wearing, said: 

“Suffragists and Suffragettes created objects, banners, tablecloths with messages and signatures in order to give more visibility to the cause. There is something very delicate and also indelible about this process. It is a re-working of a tradition and what I love about it is that it is also aesthetic.”

Gillian Wearing’s statue of the Suffragist Millicent Fawcett stands in London’s Parliament Square

From the fight for women’s suffrage to interrogations of the male gaze, from quiet interpretations of city living to themes of female erasure within it, ‘Suffragette City’ will span needlework, photography, sculpture and printmaking to ask new questions of timeless issues. 

Gillian Wearing’s Courage Calls To Courage Everywhere takes us back to 1918, when the campaign for women’s suffrage won a major victory after years of activism from men and women across the UK. To mark its centenary, Plinth worked with the artist to produce an edition of 1,000 embroidered handkerchiefs, each featuring signatures from 50 of these historic figures alongside those of contemporary campaigner Caroline Criado Perez and Gillian Wearing herself.

Carinthia West takes on her own interpretation of the interrogations of the male gaze through the lens of her candid and intimate photographs of iconic women in 70s London. An acclaimed journalist as well as a photographer, Carinthia’s photographs encapsulate the feeling of female freedom before the Me Too era. Fame and celebrity are a theme that is paramount in her photography – her personal and up-close images so alluring in capturing people who hit stardom in different era. 

Carolina Mizrahi’s photography inverts the formulae to which we’ve become inured – the sexualised female form, flattened into ubiquity and objectification over adverts for everything from toothpaste to lingerie. Drawing on her work with Vogue, Elle and Swarovski amongst others, Mizrahi’s images of women subvert our collective touchstones whilst levying their powerful shorthands for contemporary femininity.

Guler Ates’ photography looks at London and its context through an altogether wider lens. Themes of gender, faith, and identity coalesce in explorations of cultural displacement: setting a recurring, veiled female figure within various lush or historic European interiors, Ates questions the relationship between veil and visible; object, and subject. Each architectural site holds links to colonialism, post-colonialism, and notions of the ‘East’, generating questions from their intersections and framing London as both a world city and an historical site of colonial power.

Cornelia Parker shows two pieces in ‘Suffragette City’ – Black Tulip, produced with Bridgeman Editions, and STOP, made with Plinth. STOP is based, in the artist’s words, “on a photograph I took of a battered parking notice on a 60’s council estate in N1. The signs are ubiquitous in London, displayed on all the estates of the period.” Out of context, though, Parker’s missive can be applied to anything and everything – “Stop eating, Stop drinking, Stop smoking, Stop thinking”, provocatively mimicking the chorus of chastising voices to which we’re all – women in particular – subject daily.

Bridgeman Editions is a new initiative from Bridgeman Images presenting a curated selection of limited edition prints by leading contemporary and emerging artists.

Plinth commissions unique products, limited editions and multiples from the world’s leading contemporary artists, designers and photographers – from Turner Prize winners to Magnum Photographers. Plinth has also developed an extensive range of beautifully designed and affordable products for institutions such as Magnum Photos and Wellcome Collection.

Collaborating with the Mayor of London’s Culture team on major public art projects, Plinth joined forces with David Shrigley in 2016 and Michael Rakowitz in 2018 to publish a limited edition and a range of artist-designed products to accompany their Fourth Plinth commissions. To celebrate 100 years of women’s suffrage, Plinth collaborated with Gillian Wearing and designer Bella Freud to create a new capsule range, with a portion of the profits donated to the Fawcett Society.

For more information and images, please contact:

Aretha Campbell at Bridgeman Editions: aretha@bridgemaneditions.com

Chloe Grimshaw at Plinth: chloe@plinth.uk