Breaking the Mould: Digital Resources

Arts Council Collection: Breaking the Mould: Digital Resources


Breaking the Mould is the first survey of post-war British sculpture by women. This exhibition provides a radical recalibration, addressing the many accounts of British sculpture that have marginalised women or airbrushed their work from art history altogether.

The exhibition surveys seventy-five years and explores the work of over forty sculptors. All of the works have been selected from the Arts Council Collection, which holds more than 250 sculptures by over 150 women. The exhibition features a number of sculptures on public display for the first time since they were purchased for the nation.

Breaking the Mould represents the strength and diversity of a wide range of practices. Many of the represented artists have challenged widespread notions of sculpture as a ‘male occupation’ by embracing new materials, subjects and approaches. Others have avoided institutional bias by producing work for alternative spaces or public sites.

Explore these pages to find out more about Breaking the Mould - learn about key works, hear the artists talk and discover fresh ideas and a range of perspectives.


Breaking the Mould is an Arts Council Collection Touring Exhibition initiated in response to Women Working in Sculpture from 1960 to the Present Day: Towards a New Lexicon, a research project led by Catherine George (University of Coventry) and Hilary Gresty (independent).


The timeline below plots some of the key events shaping the production of sculpture by women in Britain since the formation of the Arts Council Collection in 1946.  These include art world moments and developments of social and political importance.


The definitions in the timeline are sourced from the Oxford English Dictionary as of March 2020. Language around some of these terms changes frequently.

Timeline content created by Laura Biddle and Angelica Vanasse

Meet the Artists

Amy Tobin, Lecturer in History of Art, University of Cambridge and Curator, Kettle’s Yard, explores the work of Rose Finn-Kelcey...

Rose Finn-Kelcey’s work stages material collisions that pose universal problems. In her early work this often concerned the disparities between being a woman and being an artist, in her later work she expanded her questioning to broader, humanist problems like the difference between monetary and aesthetic value, or the sacred and the profane. God’s Bog (2001) very much engages with the latter, this jesmonite sculpture combines an enlarged shell with a toilet.

The two have merged together as if mutated. The toilet’s smooth, pristine white is made beautiful by becoming shell-like, and vice versa, the curving form of the shell is disfigured and made abject by the toilet form and its scatological associations.

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Arts Council Collection: Breaking the Mould: Digital Resources
Arts Council Collection: Breaking the Mould: Digital Resources

Explore Artworks

Icon, 1957

Many of Barbara Hepworth's sculptures refer directly to her home landscape of Cornwall...
Leg Chair (Jane Birkin), 2011

Leg Chair (Jane Birkin) by Anthea Hamilton is one of a series of 10 chairs, which she began making in 2009...
No. 429 SFold, 2013

For her series titled Fold, Rana Begum works with industrial materials, including powder-coated aluminium and steel...
Untitled (6 Spaces), 1994

Rachel Whiteread’s sculptures are often constructed from 'negative spaces'...

Related Content

Explore Artworks

Find out more about works featured in Breaking the Mould, by artists including Mona Hatoum, Sarah Lucas, Rana Begum and Elisabeth Frink.

Breaking the Mould: Sculptures by Women since 1945 will be the first publication to focus on women sculptors in Britain from the post-war period to today.
Meet the Artists

Explore our You Tube playlist of films focussing on the work of artists featured in Breaking the Mould, the first survey of post-war British sculpture by women.



The Arts Council Collection is the UK's most widely seen collection of modern and contemporary art.

With more than 8,000 works by over 2,000 artists, it can be seen in exhibitions and public displays across the country and beyond. This website offers unprecedented access to the Collection, and information about each work can be found on this site.