Breaking the Mould: Sculpture by Women since 1945

29 May 2021 - 12 March 2023

An Arts Council Collection Touring Exhibition


A major new touring exhibition challenging the male-dominated narratives of post-war British sculpture by presenting a diverse and significant range of ambitious work by women.

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.

Featured artists include Barbara HepworthElisabeth FrinkKim LimCornelia ParkerVeronica RyanRachel Whiteread and Anthea Hamilton


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). 


Venue: Longside Gallery, Yorkshire Sculpture Park



"The squidgy folds and gelatinous wobbles of work by Rachel Whiteread, Holly Hendry and others are hard to keep your hands off – and tell us much about overcoming sexist attitudes in art."

★★★★☆ Guardian


"...a zesty and defiant little show. The space practically bristles with wit and possibility."

★★★★☆ The Telegraph 


'invigorating and inspiring'

★★★★★ inews 


Tour Dates & Venues

Longside Gallery, Yorkshire Sculpture Park

​29 May – 5 September 2021 (Open Thursdays to Sundays and bank holidays, 11am - 4pm​. Pre-booking essential. Book tickets at

Head to the Plan Your Visit page for further information or download our new activity trail for some fun child-friendly ideas on looking, talking and drawing around the exhibition.


Djanogly Gallery, Lakeside Arts, University of Nottingham

18 September 2021–9 January 2022

The Levinsky Gallery, The Arts Institute, University of Plymouth

26 March - 5 June 2022

Ferens Art Gallery, Hull 

2 July–2 October 2022

The New Art Gallery Walsall

Oct 2022 - March 2023


For more information or support with accessing the exhibition or resources get in touch:

Arts Council Collection: Breaking the Mould: Sculpture by Women since 1945

Explore the Exhibition

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

Learning Resources

Breaking the Mould not only celebrates the strengths of sculpture made by women but also seeks to guard against the threat of slipping out of view


Arts Council Collection: Breaking the Mould: Sculpture by Women since 1945

Breaking the Mould is accompanied by a fully-illustrated publication produced by Hayward Gallery Publishing, featuring an essay on the subject by Natalie Rudd, Senior Curator of the Arts Council Collection, and curator of the exhibition, alongside complementary texts from artists, writers and curators exploring the practices of over forty British sculptors, presenting fresh critical thinking on the subject. The book also features a timeline, highlighting key events and developments over the last seventy years.


Full list of participating artists:

Anthea Alley, Phyllida Barlow, Rana Begum, Helen Chadwick, Alice Channer, Lygia Clark, Shelagh Cluett, Susan Collis, Jane Coyle, Katie Cuddon, Sokari Douglas Camp, Rose Finn-Kelcey, Jessie Flood-Paddock, Elisabeth Frink, Anya Gallaccio, Katherine Gili, Anthea Hamilton, Mona Hatoum, Jann Haworth, Holly Hendry, Barbara Hepworth, Shirazeh Houshiary, Karin Jonzen, Permindar Kaur, Mary Kelly, Liliane Lijn, Kim Lim, Gillian Lowndes, Sarah Lucas, Helen Marten, Mary Martin, Cathy De Monchaux, Lucia Nogueira, Margaret Organ, Emma Park, Cornelia Parker, Amalia Pica, Kathy Prendergast, Eva Rothschild, Meg Rutherford, Veronica Ryan, Grace Schwindt, Wendy Taylor, Hayley Tompkins, Shelagh Wakely, Rebecca Warren, Rachel Whiteread, Alison Wilding and Rosemary Young.


To accompany the exhibition we have a public programme of events, including our annual Teachers' Day, gallery tours and drop in workshops at Longside Gallery. Find out more here 

Arts Council Collection: Breaking the Mould: Sculpture by Women since 1945

Featured Artworks

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...
Gut Feelings (Stromatolith), 2016

Holly Hendry is interested in defining the architecture of spaces by exploring the possibilities of surface, colour and density, which is inherent in the wide range of materials she uses in her installations.
Untitled (6 Spaces), 1994

Rachel Whiteread’s sculptures are often constructed from 'negative spaces'... Lim
No. 429 SFold, 2013

For her series titled Fold, Rana Begum works with industrial materials, including powder-coated aluminium and steel...

Related Content

Artist Profile: Rose Finn-Kelcey

Amy Tobin, Lecturer in History of Art, University of Cambridge and Curator, Kettle’s Yard, explores the work of Rose Finn-Kelcey
Artist Profile: Margaret Organ

Artist Anne Hardy explores the work of Collection artist Margaret Organ, with archive material from the Henry Moore Institute in Leeds
Breaking the Mould with Gomersal Primary

Find out about the Arts Council Collection’s ongoing partnership with Gomersal Primary School in West Yorkshire, as part of the learning programme at our centre for sculpture at Longside, Yorkshire Sculpture Park.

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.