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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 and ephemeral 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 assess the relationship between sculptural precarity and art world marginalization experienced by many women working across this period. Made in the UK, in the shadows and embers of Thatcher’s governance (1979-90), this sculpture is personal and political.  

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

'Back to the Future: Modern British Art Revisited,' in Jo Baring, ed, Modern British Art Revisited (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).

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

'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).

Reviews and articles

'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: 

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 and Tate Liverpool. 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 British art 

British art in the 1960s

Peter Blake 

Contemporary approaches to self-portraiture

Public collections: acquisition, interpretation and display

Learning & engagement in museums and galleries

Art writing and biography


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

Member, Hepworth Research Network at The Hepworth Wakefield

Member, The International Society for Education through Art (InSEA)

Member, Public Statues & Sculpture Association