A talk about my work “Hiding the Wound: Homage to Mr. Freud” was held recently as part of the Coming Out exhibition at Birmingham Museums & Art Gallery. It was given by the very eloquent Andrea Bonnell and attended by a lively audience of staff members and general public.
I made this piece back in 1979 in response to Freud’s implication that women are “imperfect” and therefore inferior to men. Here, the act of sewing was not only a light-hearted reaction to the female experience of male supremacy but also, and more seriously, a symbolic surgical suture representing the desire for sexual autonomy. But that was then and, I wondered, how would people react nowadays to “Hiding the Wound”?
Andrea’s talk was deservedly a huge success and was followed by some very thought provoking discussions. Some people even took the trouble to leave written comments to be passed on to me. Here’s a selection: “Thank you for being bold and expressive. And for challenging constructs which pass others by. Your works seems even more relevant today and it feels like something which is essential to revisit periodically to redefine its meaning and relevance in the movement.”and “Simplicity and ‘non-drama’ make the piece resonate because female sexuality should not be an issue, nor a trophy for men.”
Originally shown at the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool, the landmark exhibition Coming Out, Sexuality, Gender & Identity then travelled on to the Birmingham Museum & Gallery. It featured over 80 modern and contemporary artworks by artists – including me – who explore themes of gender, sexuality and identity in art.
As described by the press release, Coming Out was a “ground-breaking and vital exhibition which marked the 50th anniversary of the partial decriminalisation of male homosexual acts in England and Wales (1967 Sexual Offences Act). Taking 1967 as a starting point, the exhibition revealed new research into LGBT history and visual culture by showcasing artworks from The Arts Council Collection, National Museums Liverpool and Birmingham’s collection.