Rose Finn-Kelcey, House Rules, 2001

In the era of some valid, some rather flippant #feminism, it pays to look back at some of the most dynamic Feminist artists of that bold, 1970s third wave; and what better time to explore the work of British artist Rose Finn-Kelcey, whose exhibition Power for the People has just opened at Firstsite in Colchester, Essex.

Finn-Kelcey was a central figure in the story of contemporary performance and feminist art, working across sculpture, live art, video, public interventions and installation pieces that explore ideas around empowerment, voice, faith and spirituality. Firstsite’s show brings together more than 30 pieces by Finn-Kelcey from across her 40-year career. The artist died in 2014, but two of her artist friends, Peter Liversidge and Simon Moretti, have created works especially for the show.

The show’s title comes from one of Finn-Kelcey’s most celebrated earlier works, the 1972 piece Power for the People, for which she made large silver tissue and black bunting flags bearing that slogan. These were hung from London’s Battersea Power Station and soon (boringly predictably) removed due to complaints from Chelsea residents across the river. “Rich in nuance and ambiguity, the text puns on a popular protest slogan of the time, and what the building generated,” says the gallery.

Another of the artist’s most famous pieces is her 1987 work Bureau de Change, “which playfully recreates Vincent Van Gogh’s iconic Sunflowers painting using over 2,000 coins.” The show will also feature some never-before-seen pieces, including 1994’s Truth, Dare, Double-Dare (1994), “the uncomfortable result of an incompatible collaboration with artist Donald Rodney,” as well as Cutout (c. 1982), a precursor performance of Finn-Kelcey’s seminal work, Glory.
 
“If Finn-Kelcey’s artistic practice can be characterised at all, it would be by its unpredictability,” says Firstsite, “each new work routinely defied the expectations created by its predecessor.”

Power for the People runs until 4 March 2018 at Firstsite, Colchester.

Rose Finn-Kelcey, Jolly God, 1997

Rose Finn-Kelcey, Jolly God, 1997

Rose Finn-Kelcey, It Pays to Pray, 1999

Rose Finn-Kelcey, It Pays to Pray, 1999

Rose Finn-Kelcey,Blushing Book Vol1, 1977

Rose Finn-Kelcey,Blushing Book Vol1, 1977

Rose Finn-Kelcey, Here is a Gale Warning, 1971

Rose Finn-Kelcey, Here is a Gale Warning, 1971

Rose Finn-Kelcey, Cutout (film still), c. 1982

Rose Finn-Kelcey, Cutout (film still), c. 1982

Rose Finn-Kelcey, Power for the People. Documentation Photograph #1, 1972

Rose Finn-Kelcey, Power for the People. Documentation Photograph #1, 1972

Rose Finn-Kelcey, Funny Business, 1984

Rose Finn-Kelcey, Funny Business, 1984

Rose Finn-Kelcey, Untitled: Bullfighter, 1986

Rose Finn-Kelcey, Untitled: Bullfighter, 1986

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Author: Emily Gosling

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