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Natalie Rudd

Visual Arts, University of Birmingham

Thesis title:

Lost and Found: Material Precarity in British Sculpture by Women, 1978-1993

This PhD project will investigate the contribution made by women to British sculpture between 1978 and 1993. These transformative years witnessed increasing visibility for women at a time of significant sculptural innovation, from the emergence of New British Sculpture to the rise of ‘young British art’. Embracing the work of a diverse range of artists, this inclusive study will move beyond preconceptions of women as emulators, reinstating women as pioneers, driving new approaches to sculpture. 

This project will analyse how a generation of women harnessed the potential of malleable materials such as flowers, textiles and biological matter to interrogate issues of precarity and vulnerability. It will investigate a range of destabilising working methods and display strategies from decay, desiccation and destruction to leaning, balancing and dangling. The employment of salvage processes suggests frugality and limited resources but also highlights the creative potential of recovery. The research will include a reappraisal of overlooked artists, whose contributions deserve greater recognition. It will also analyse the relationship between sculptural precarity and art world marginalization experienced by many women working across this period.

Research Area

  • Art History
  • Visual Arts



Contemporary Art (London: Thames & Hudson, 2023).

The Self-Portrait (London: Thames & Hudson, 2021).

Peter Blake (London: Tate Publishing, 2003).

Published essays

‘Going with the Flow: Ways of Bringing Sculpture to Life,’ in Natalie Rudd and Ralph Rugoff, When Forms Come Alive: Sixty Years of Restless Sculpture (London: Hayward Publishing, 2024).

'Nothing Fixed: The Sculptural Strategies of Permindar Kaur,' Permindar Kaur: Outgrown (Wakefield: Art House Wakefield, 2022).

'Back to the Future: Modern British in Contemporary Art,' in Jo Baring, ed, Revisiting Modern British Art (London: Lund Humphries, 2022).

'A Family of Images: The Intimate Carvings of Claire Langdown,' in Nia Roberts, ed, Claire Langdown (Ruthin: Ruthin Craft Centre and David Nash Sculpture Ltd, 2022).

'Attempts to Fill Vacant Spaces’, Veronica Ryan: Along a Spectrum (Bristol: Spike Island, 2021).

‘Contact Tracing: The Haptic Abstraction of Giulia Ricci’, Giulia Ricci (London: Bartha Contemporary, 2021).

‘Keeping Watch: Expanding the Narratives of Modern British Sculpture’, Breaking the Mould: Sculpture by Women since 1945 (London: Hayward Publishing, 2020).

‘Points of Passage: The Sculpture of Paul de Monchaux’, Paul de Monchaux: A Monograph (London: Ridinghouse, 2019).

‘The Completeness of Opposites: The Early Work of Tess Jaray’, Tess Jaray (London: Ridinghouse / Sotheby’s, 2017).

‘Kaleidoscope’, Kaleidoscope: Colour and Sequence in 1960s British Art (London: Hayward Publishing, 2017).

‘From Here to Infinity and Back’, Size Matters: Exploring Scale in the Arts Council Collection (London: Hayward Gallery Publishing, 2005).

‘In The City’, Fabrications: New Art & Urban Memory in Manchester, (Manchester: UMiM, 2002).

Edited volumes

“Pioneering Women Sculptors,” Sculpture Journal 32.1, Liverpool University Press (March, 2023). 

(Co-editor of special issue with Rosamund Lily West and Dr Melanie Veasey)

Artist interviews

‘The Butterfly Man: Peter Blake in Conversation with Natalie Rudd’, Peter Blake: Collage (London: Thames & Hudson, 2021).

‘A Conversation between Liadin Cooke and Natalie Rudd’, Liadin Cooke: Nostos (London: noshowspace, 2014).

‘Peter Blake in conversation with Natalie Rudd’, webcast of an event held at Tate Britain on 18 June, 2003.

‘About Collage: Peter Blake in conversation with Natalie Rudd’ Peter Blake: About Collage (London: Tate Publishing, 2000).

Shorter monographic texts

‘Ernesto Neto’ and ‘Nairy Baghramian’ in Natalie Rudd and Ralph Rugoff, When Forms Come Alive: Sixty Years of Restless Sculpture (London: Hayward Publishing, 2024). 

'William Turnbull's Coltrane', in Jon Wood, ed, William Turnbull: International Modern Artist (London: Lund Humphries, 2022).

‘Chronology', Flashback: Anish Kapoor (London: Hayward Publishing, 2011).

‘Carl Plackman and the Arts Council Collection', ed. Jon Wood, Carl Plackman: Sculpture, Drawing, Writing (Huddersfield: Huddersfield Art Gallery, 2007).

‘About Peter', PB is for Peter Blake (Denmark: Gl. Holtergaard Publishing, 2006).

‘I Don't Have Another Land', Nathan Coley: There will be no miracles here (Edinburgh: Fruitmarket Gallery / Locus+ Publishing, 2004).

‘Peter Blake', Sculpture in 20th Century Britain: A Guide to the Leeds Collections (Leeds: Henry Moore Institute, 2003).

‘Nathan Coley', Days Like These: Tate Triennial Exhibition of Contemporary British Art 2003, (London: Tate Publishing, 2003).

‘Felix Gonzalez-Torres', Leaving Tracks: artranspennine98 (London: August Media, 1999).

Articles, reviews and digital content

'Escala: Escultura 1945-2000', The Burlington Magazine 166 (February 2024), 103-104 (book review of Escala: Escultura 1945-2000, edited by Penelope Curtis, published to accompany an exhibition at Fundación Juan March, Madrid, 2023).

Hilary Gresty, Permindar Kaur and Natalie Rudd, “Researching women in sculpture: a discussion event at the Henry Moore Institute, 4 May 2022,” Sculpture Journal, 32.1, Liverpool University Press (March 2023): 113-132.

'Back to the Future: Tracing the Legacies of Modern British Art,' Art UK, 20 September 2022: https://artuk.org/discover/stories/back-to-the-future-tracing-the-legacies-of-modern-british-art

'A brisk and efficient survey of Barbara Hepworth's career coincides with the first biography of the sculptor', The Burlington Magazine, November 2021, No. 1424, Vol.163, 1056-58 (Review of the exhibition Barbara Hepworth: Art and Life at The Hepworth Wakefield).

https://ocula.com/magazine/conversations/natalie-rudd-on-breaking-the-mould/, Ocula, 26 May 2021

‘Breaking the Mould: Sculpture by Women since 1945’, The National Society for Education in Art & Design Magazine, Summer 2020, Issue 28.

https://artuk.org/discover/stories/breaking-the-mould-sculpture-by-women-since-1945, Art UK, 8 May 2020.

‘Curators’, review of When Artists Curate by Alison Green, Times Literary Supplement, May 3, 2019.

‘Dropping Out’, review of Lee Lozano by Jo Applin, Times Literary Supplement, March 8, 2019.

'Learning & Engagement with the Arts Council Collection, The National Society for Education in Art & Design Magazine, Summer 2018, Issue 18 (with Natalie Walton).

'Money Makes the World Go Round', Review of Compton Verney], The Museums Journal, 1999.


Baring, Jo and Sarah Turner, Sculpting Lives, contributor to series 2, episode 6, Making Sculpture Public, released 6 December 2021, https://audioboom.com/channels/5014385


Selected relevant contributions: 

10 July 2024

Royal Academy of Arts, London 

Chair of in-conversation event: On Sculpture: Cornelia Parker and Veronica Ryan In Conversation

1 July 2024

Paul Mellon Centre Summer Symposium / Ikon Gallery, Birmingham: Precarity in Art History
Paper: Inhabiting Frail Structures: Precariousness in Sculpture by Women, 1978-1993  

27 June 2024

Henry Moore Foundation, Perry Green, Hertfordshire

Conference: Brancusi, Britain and the Idea of Modern Sculpture

Session chair: papers by artists Toby Christian, Nicholas Pope and David Ward 

21 March 2024

York St John University Symposium: Talking Sculpture: Dialectics of Making

Paper and panel discussion

13 April 2023

New Art Gallery Walsall

In-conversation event: Rana Begum and Alice Channer in conversation with Natalie Rudd

29 March 2023
University of Leeds / Henry Moore Institute Conference: Touch-Space: The Tactile Imagination in Contemporary Sculptural Practice
Paper: Points of Contact: Phyllida Barlow’s Shedmesh (1976) and an expanded exploration of touch

7 July 2022

Lecture at Ferens Art Gallery, Hull to mark the opening of Breaking the Mould: Sculpture by Women since 1945.

4 May 2022
Researching Women in Sculpture: Breaking the Mould: Sculpture by Women since 1945
Discussion event at Henry Moore Institute, Leeds with Rosamund Lily West, Hilary Gresty and Permindar Kaur.

25 March 2022
Lecture at Arts Institute, University of Plymouth to mark the opening of Breaking the Mould: Sculpture by Women since 1945 at The Box and Levinsky Gallery, Plymouth.

4 December 2021

Breaking the Mould Study Day, Lakeside Arts, University of Nottingham

Chair. Day of presentations and discussions including an in-conversation with Sokari Douglas Camp and Permindar Kaur.

12 November 2021

Richard Deacon and Bill Woodrow

Chair of artist's converation to coincide with exhibition, We Thought About It A Lot and other shared drawings, Ikon Gallery, Birmingham

18 September 2021
Lecture at University of Nottingham to mark the opening of Breaking the Mould: Sculpture by Women since 1945 at Djanogly Gallery, Nottingham 

30 April 2021
Aesthetica Future Now Symposium
Panelist. Discussion on women working in sculpture chaired by Holly Trusted, with artists Rana Begum, Holly Hendry and Permindar Kaur 

15 April 2021
Association for Art History Conference workshop: Breaking the Mould: Sculpture by Women since 1945
Chair of panel discussion with Dr Abi Shapiro, Bianca Chu and Dr Sarah Turner https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Ne6pO_5EKs

10 March 2021
Pioneering Women Conference, hosted by the Royal Society of Sculptors
Co-organiser and co-chair with Rosamund Lily-West and Dr Melanie Veasey https://sculptors.org.uk/about/our-archive/pioneering-women

12/13 March 2020
Hepworth Research Network Launch 
Contributor and panelist, https://hepworthwakefield.org/our-story/hepworth-research-network/events/hepworth-research-network-launch/

11 July 2019
Working in Sculpture: Gender, Diversity & Creativity
Panelist. Discussion chaired by Professor Griselda Pollock, with Emii Alrai, Eleanor Clayton, Lorna Green, Veronica Ryan https://yorkshire-sculpture.org/events/working-in-sculpture-gender-diversity-and-creativity/

Public Engagement & Impact

I have worked as a curator of modern and contemporary art since the late 1990s, having held various curatorial positions in arts organisations including Arts Council Collection (Sculpture Curator 2003-2015 / Senior Curator 2015-2021) and Tate Liverpool (Assistant Curator 1998-99 / Curator 2000-2001). Using collections of modern and contemporary art as my starting point, I have curated a large number of exhibitions and related public programmes. I have also supported a number of artists with the curation of their exhibitions. Selected projects include:

Breaking The Mould: Sculpture By Women Since 1945 (Arts Council Collection Touring, 2021) 
In My Shoes: Art & The Self Since the 1990s (ACC Touring, 2018)
Kaleidoscope: Colour & Sequence in 1960s British Art (ACC Touring, 2017, with Sam Cornish)
Night In The Museum: Ryan Gander Curates The Arts Council Collection (ACC Touring, 2016)
Making It: Sculpture in Britain 1977-1986 (ACC Touring, 2015, with Jon Wood)
Flashback: Anish Kapoor (ACC Touring, 2011)
Grayson Perry: Unpopular Culture (ACC Touring, 2008)
60: 60 Years Of Sculpture in The Arts Council Collection (Arts Council Collection at Longside Gallery, 2006)
Size Matters: Exploring Scale in The Arts Council Collection (ACC Touring, 2004)
Pin-Up (Tate Liverpool, 2002, art & fan cultures) 
Primary Vision (Tate Liverpool, 2001, art & the influence of drawing by children)
Peter Blake: About Collage (Tate Liverpool, 2000)
Barry Flanagan (Tate Liverpool, 2000, Tate Collection display)

Other Research Interests


Modern and contemporary art 

Public collections: acquisition, interpretation and display

Learning & engagement in museums and galleries


Arts Council Collection Acquisitions Committee member: 2013-14, 2014-15, 2015-16

Member, Hepworth Research Network at The Hepworth Wakefield

Member, Public Statues & Sculpture Association

Member, International Council of Museums


University of Birmingham

January - March 2024: Teaching Associate, School of Languages, Cultures, Art History and Music. BA: A History of Art in 20 Objects (Lectures).

University of Birmingham

September 2022- January 2023: Teaching Associate, School of Languages, Cultures, Art History and Music. BA: Historical Concepts and Methods in the History of Art (Seminars).


Visiting lecturer / teaching sessions on art history and curating carried out on a freelance basis in museums, galleries, universities and colleges. 

Regular lectures for curating courses at: University of York, Winchester School of Art.