SYMPOSIUM: Monica Sjöö The time is NOW and it is overdue!

Saturday 25 June, 2-5pm

with keynote speakers Dr Katy Deepwell and  Una Hamilton Helle, and panellists Annie Johnston, Bindu Mehra, Maggie Parks and Linsey Young. Chaired by Naomi Siderfin.

Our exhibition title quotes directly from IMAGES ON WOMAN POWER – ARTS MANIFESTO (1971) by Anne Berg and Monica Sjöö, recently published by KT Press in 50 Feminist Art Manifestos (2022). Professor Dr Katy Deepwell will speak to this text and assess Sjöö’s contribution as an artist-activist with ongoing influence. The discussion will open-up to include the views of a younger generation of artists and curators ­– ­Una Hamilton Helle, Bindu Mehra and Linsey Young ­– illuminated by the recollections of Sjöö’s close relations Annie Johnston and Maggie Parks.

Photo Fran Painter-Fleming
Photo Minna Haukka
Photo Ellis Parkinson

Background to the speakers

Professor Dr Katy Deepwell is a feminist art critic and academic whose work centres on the promotion of feminism in relation to contemporary art and art criticism. She is the founder and editor of n.paradoxa: international feminist art journal (1998-2017) and Managing Director of KT press, which started in 1998. KT press is the publisher of a series of ebooks on contemporary women artists, 2012-2014, n.paradoxa: international feminist art journal, The Feminist Art Observatory (one of the largest online resource sites on feminism and contemporary art internationally) and n.paradoxa’s MOOC (2 mass open online courses, published in the manner of FemTechNet DOCCs). She was President of the British Section of AICA (International Association of Art Critics), 1997–2000 and Chair of Trustees of Women’s Art Library, London, 1989–1994, now housed at Goldsmiths University of London. In 2021, she was awarded a Distinguished Feminist Scholar Award as an art critic, by College Art Association in USA. Deepwell is currently Professor of Contemporary Art, Theory and Criticism at Middlesex University.

Read a short interview with her as part of The Ripple Effect project.

Una Hamilton Helle (NO/UK) is an artist and curator interested in ecological subjectivities who is currently studying for a practice-based Phd in the Geography department at Royal Holloway University. She runs Legions Projects together with Matthew Hughes and curated the touring exhibition Waking the Witch (2018-19), in which Monica Sjöö’s work had a prominent role. She also edited the zine Monica Sjöö: artist, activist, writer, mother, warrior (2022) that was published by Legion Projects earlier this year. This symposium also serves as the London launch of the publication.

Learn more about their art projects here:

Annie Johnston is the chief archivist and manager of the Estate of Monica Sjöö. Johnston is the mother of Monica Sjöö’s grandchildren and first met Monica in 1973 at her exhibition in Bower Ashton Art College. Over the next three decades she knew Monica both as a family member and continued to follow her work. Since Monica’s death in 2005 she has overseen the Estate. She currently lives in Bristol where the family care for Sjöö’s legacy collection of paintings, drawings, prints and posters, as well as extensive archival ephemera. The Estate holds the copyright for all of Monica Sjöö’s work and is currently working in collaboration with Tate Britain, Tate Liverpool and the Moderna Museet in Stockholm towards forthcoming exhibitions. The exhibition Monica Sjöö the time is NOW and it is overdue! is made possible by the kind loan of the collection of oil paintings held by the family, together with a small selection of drawings.

Learn more about the collection here:

Bindu Mehra (IN/UK) is an artist and doctoral researcher at Slade School of Fine Art, UCL. Her current research examines how the legacy of British colonialism and Indian patriarchal structures, continue to silence women’s voices. Mehra’s focus on collective amnesia within India pertaining to sexual violence against women during Partition, is complicated by an awareness of the role British women played in furthering British Imperialism for their own political gains; to strengthen their own claims for suffrage and political rights.

Learn more about their artworks here:

Maggie Parks OBE met Monica Sjoo in the early eighties through her love of art and the women’s peace movement. Maggie’s experiences at Greenham Common peace camp included an understanding of spirituality as politics that changed her life trajectory, and she became a lifelong radical feminist, active in collective practices of resistance such as the women’s peace movement, Spiral Women’s Camps, Women for Life on Earth and the Rape Crisis Movement. She has been an active campaigner in the Violence Against Women and Girls sector and was Chief Executive of the Womens Centre Cornwall for 25 years, serving on a number of national bodies including The End Violence Against Women Coalition and Rape Crisis England and Wales. She was co-editor of ‘from the flames’ a journal of radical feminist politics and spiritualty from 1991 to 2001, a magazine that Monica contributed to regularly with drawings and writings. Maggie was a lifelong friend and co-conspirator of Monica’s, organising conferences and actions with her including Monica’s retrospective exhibition in Bath in 2004. She was the caretaker of her paintings and her archive materials, journals and writings for many years.

Read an interview:

Linsey Young has held the position of Curator of British Contemporary Art at Tate Britain since 2016. In this role she has delivered commissions with artists such as Pablo Bronstein, Rachel Whiteread and Anthea Hamilton and is lead curator of the Turner Prize when it is held at Tate Britain. In 2019 she commissioned and curated Charlotte Prodger’s presentation at the Venice Biennale and is currently working on a major exhibition and publication project at Tate Britain exploring art and the women’s movement in the United Kingdom between 1970 and 1990. Young initially connected Minna Haukka of Feminist Library with Annie Johnston, leading to Haukka’s visit to the Sjöö family archive with Beaconsfield in October 2021 to select works for the current exhibition.

Read an interview with them here:

Naomi Siderfin is an artist and writer and  founding co-director of Beaconsfield, an artist-led space for the development and presentation of contemporary art, based in North Lambeth since 1994. She is co-curator of Monica Sjöö the time is NOW and it is overdue! She is currently a doctoral researcher at Slade School of Fine Art, UCL and her PhD focusses on the role of tacit knowledge for the artist-curator, positioning artist-led galleries as sites of resistance and collaboration. Earlier in life, she co-founded a Women’s Group at Queen Mary’s Sixth Form College in 1979.

Read her provocation for a previous symposium here: