In December 2010, 5 months pregnant, I was offered and accepted a one year residency at Pangolin London in Kings Cross starting almost immediatedly. This blog will chart my attempt to ‘have it all’: a year of focused studio time and a happy growing family life.


Here are a few photos from last september when I was starting the final of the plaster Carnegie Stages sculpture – CS10.

NB – I have been posting lots of work in progress images on my twitter feed so I haven’t been keeping this blog very updated. Also various personal reasons means that I have been mostly focused on getting the work done in the studio and keeping the family happy and well… But it is now 8 weeks to the solo show, and 1 week to my photo deadline so all the work is nearly done.


So, I found out on Monday that I was on the long list for the Anthology prize show – which was quite exciting. Then tonight I found out, I’m not in the 10 finalist. Oh well, you win some you lose some…

I checked the list for a friend of mine, Rebecca Glover, and sadly she wasn’t there either, but a male friend of hers was. Then I noticed something. The list of 10 was almost all male names, there were two that could have been female, but in fact only one of them was. So, only 1 out of the 10 finalists was a woman… a bit strange given that there are now more female than males graduating from art school.

So, I went back to the long list and checked what the split was there: there were 23 female artists and 22 male artists. So the preselectors had produced a very evenly balanced long list in terms of the sexes, but the selectors produced a predominantly male list.

So, who was the jury: Mark Clannachan, Zavier Ellis, Hélène Guérin, Sue Hubbard, Ben Street and Simon Rumley. So two women and 4 men.

Now, this really isn’t a case of sour grapes, whilst I’ve been checking through the names, and trying to make sure that my guesses to gender are right by googling the artists, I’ve been quite distracted and have enjoyed looking at their work. Jocelyn, the only female on the final list has some fascinating work. And some of the both males and females who didn’t get selected had great work. But it is just a bit extream for the final list to be *so* male.

From a guardian article:

“only four women have won the Turner prize since its inception in 1984, and the roster of artists represented by the world’s leading contemporary art galleries remains overwhelmingly male”

Art by definition should be subjective, and I don’t think you can start telling selectors to have quotas. But perhaps it is the people who are doing the selecting that is the key to this. Gallerists still tend to be predominantly male, as do art critics. Does art appreciation have a sexual bias, are women more attracted to works by women, and men to works by men? I think we are naturally attracted to work that has some resonnance to our personal concerns, and there must be something in the idea that men and woman even in todays society continue to have very different experiences and perhaps through both nature or nurture have intrisincally different ways of viewing the world.

Suppose this were categorically true, and women selectors only favoured women artist, and male selectors only male artist, our Anthology shortlist should then have about 3 or 4 females on it. Given it isn’t, might it be that female selectors are more likely to favour male artists than male selectors female artists? Or even, is it that male selectors are more forceful and persuasive in their opinions than female selectors, thus pushing through more of their favoured artists? Now I’m sure Hélène Guérin and Sue Hubbard are convincing and sure of their views, but the fact remains only 10% of the list is female.

Another thing that also strikes me is that the male/female divide is fairly easy to spot given gender specific names, but what is hidden are other socio-economic or diverstity statistics (state educated v. privately educated artists, north/south, class or ethnicity…)

In the work place it is a well established fact that people tend to hire staff that resemble themselves, which is why its good practice to remove names from CVs when they are being revieweed. But you can’t change people’s biases once they are in a room with a candidate. In the art world in some ways the fact that you are mostly being judged on your work not yourself should mean that these biases are removed. However, if your concerns and context are alien to the selector, there is much less of a chance that they will see or feel your work in its best light.

Do you think there is any truth in my hypothesis? and in which case how do we correct it so that women and other minorities have equal opportunities in the hard environment?


Working with Assistants:

So, I’ve been increadibly lucky that I have had a number of lovely people and amazing artists who have decided that they would get something useful out of working (for free) as my assistant.

I would never had dreamt this was possible, but it was suggested to me by what was then a recent artist aquaintance, now friend Helen Carnac ( I had a long chat to her when I was deciding whether or not to accept the offer of this residency given I was pregnant. She suggested using volunteer assistants to help make the most of the time available, and it was such a great idea.

So, James Fuller ( was my first assistant and he helped me most of last year starting in February till around October/November. He had to put up with a lumbering and at times scatty pregnant woman for the first 3 months, and did all my heavy lifting during this period. He had recently finished his degree at Westminster Uni in Media Art I think, and makes interactive immersive environments with 2 collaborators. He had never learnt any sculptural techniques, so learning to mould and cast was all new to him, and I taught him lots of different techniques, brush on and pour moulds, casting in wax, pewter, jesmonite bronze.

He was great to have in the studio, and would regale me with funny stories from the private dinning job he did in the evenings, and his point of view of the art world and what was going on as a 22 yr old.

Next, I decided I was ready for 2 assistants, one of whom was just amazing and I miss her already. Elaine Mullings ( had just finished an MA at the Slade and had done amazing works with broken safety glass or with flocks of paper.

It was great having her in the studio, we worked really well together encouraging each other and solving problems easily. She was also so enthusiastic about all the new materials I was teaching her – in particular how to work with wax – and gave me great feedback on the work I had in progress.

At the same time I also had Luisa but in the end she was a bit too torn between her need to make money from her part time work and the 2 days in the studio.

Now I have 2 new assistants who are both different and seem like lovely people to have in the studio – Carina is in her mid twenties having done a degree in Philosophy and Economics before deciding to go to art school – she managed to get a scholarship to study glass sculpture for a year in the states. And John, who is an ex-chartered accountant who has come to sculpture later in life and is currently studying at the Mary Ward centre. I may even add one more as there will be a lot of moulding and casting in the next 2 months – the final 2.

I also have a 1st year student from the curation and communications course at Central StMartins who is helping update my online profile, and who wants to get more exposure to what it is like to be a ‘real artist’! He pops in when he can around lectures and tutorials, but has already helped me create a fan page for me on Facebook:

Aren’t I lucky! But I do put as much energy as I can into teaching them, so hopefully they are lucky too…

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Back at work

So, todays my first day back in the studio after having taken 2 whole weeks off which involved a family holiday to Ghana (where my husband’s family is from). It was hot but relaxing, and so nice to spend lots of time with my 3 ‘boys’.

It was great coming in and getting back into the work. I’d been good and tidied and cleaned the studio before I left. But after having spent the first 2 hours working on a small wax maquette (listening to Melvin Brag’s in our time archive) I felt a bit cold so decided to mop the floor. This hasn’t been done since I moved in, as I don’t have a mop but I managed to borrow one from the Kings Place cleaning staff. I had to scrape off wax and wire brush dried up clay. Then I kept coming accross lots of paper cemented to the floor, couldn’t understand why – then I realised it must be remnants of Abigail Falis’ Papier Mache work! My suspicions were confirmed when I saw a Daily Mail with March 2009 on it!

An hour and a half later I was definitely warm, but hadn’t quite envisioned spending that long…

On another note, I’m feeling guilty at leaving my now 8 month old. I remember when I decided to go for the opportunity that I’d be finishing when he was 8 months old, which is when they start getting more aware. He is definitely very clingy now – maybe to do with all the passing round and being held by relatives (and strangers) he got on holiday. But he stretches out his arms to me saying ‘ma ma ma ma’. Today is his first day with my mother-in-law for a while, and I’m sure he’ll be happy, but I do feel guilty.

Its great that my residency has been extended to April, and I’m really planning on working hard over the next 4 months. I’m feelling back to my old fit self and had underestimated how hard it is to work hard when you are heavily pregnant or with a small baby at home. I have 4 projects I’m working on that are very exciting, and I have 2 assistants who’ll be coming in helping on thursdays and fridays. Plus I’m planning on working sunday-tuesday on my own on new work. (Wednesday taken off to look after little ones).

But, as they say, the guilt of the working mum knows no bounds… (when you’re working hard and when you’re mothering hard)


I have just done my first mail out on my mailing list since 6th June – oops, that means a whole 6 months have gone past without sending anything out. That’s not great, but I’m not going to get stressed about it, given what else I’m up to at the moment.

Anyway, I thought I would past here my email, as I think it is an interesting summary of the last 6 months:

If you want to view it in technicolor you can click here:

Dear friend

You might be wondering why you haven’t heard from me in quite a while… well since my last exhibitions in May and June, I have had my head down in the studio working on a new body of work. It was a bit difficult at first with the new baby, sleepless nights and an imaginative loving 4 year old also demanding my time, but I feel I am now getting into the rhythm of my new life and the work has been developing well.

I have been discovering how to combine scientific research and intuition, and some of my research into neuroscience has fed into how I purposefully manage the conscious and subconscious thinking I’m doing. Strangely, my interest in ideas around how form develops in nature, has led me to a series of works linked to embryogenesis – perhaps influenced by my pregnancy?

I am still not ready to show the current work, which is still developing, but I hope I will be able to show the fruits of my residency at Pangolin London in about a year’s time. In the meantime, there is an opportunity to see my ever popular ‘Dream of Society as Flawless as Diamond’ bronze, and some related smaller works at the Pangolin London Christmas Show.

You can follow my residency progress further on twitter (I’m ArtBriony) and through my blog Hope to see you on Wednesday


Christmas Show
Pangolin London

Kings Place, 90 York Way, London,N1 9AG

Wednesday 14th December
I have a limited number of invitation to the private view – if you would like to come please email me back asap

Exhibition open

15th – 23rd DecemberTuesday – Saturday 10am – 6pm, Mondays by appointment

Artists include: Robert Aberdein, Anthony Abrahams, Christie Brown, Jon Buck, Ann Christopher, Terence Coventry, Abigail Fallis, Briony Marshall, Charlotte Mayer, Steve Russell, Almuth Tebbenhoff, Jason Wason and many more

For moreinformation see the exhibition page on the Pangolin London website.