Dear Christine – A Tribute to Christine Keeler
Preview: Friday 4th October, 6pm (includes music from Katie Chatburn)
Caroline Coon, I AM WHORE: Saturday 19th October, 5pm
Spoken word event: Saturday 19th October, 7pm
Shani Rhys James and Sue Williams ‘in conversation’: Saturday 12th October, 5pm
Artist panel talk (with Marguerite Horner, Jowonder and Julia Maddison): Saturday 26th October, 5pm
Exhibition continues until 9th November
Gallery open: Tues – Sat 12 – 7pm
Gallery Bar open: Tues, Weds 12 – 7pm, Thurs 12 – 11pm, Friday and Saturday 12 – 1am
Natalie D’Arbeloff | Claudia Clare | Caroline Coon | Lucy Cox Catherine Edmunds | Roxana Halls | Sadie Hennessy | Marguerite Horner | Barbara Howey Shani Rhys James | Sal Jones | Jowonder | Sadie Lee | Cathy Lomax | Julia Maddison Sonja Benskin Mesher | Wendy Nelson | Sarah Shaw | Stella Vine | Fionn Wilson
‘Dear Christine’ aims to reclaim and reframe Christine Keeler (1942–2017), a woman castigated for her role in a notorious political scandal in the Sixties. The Profumo Affair was a watershed moment in British cultural and political history which brought down the government of the time. Keeler was shamed in the tabloid press and suffered its full wrath as the dawn of the sexual revolution approached. Keeler, it could be argued, inadvertently challenged the prevailing morality of the time and the hypocrisy of the establishment. As a woman behaving in a sexually-free way, she pushed boundaries ahead of her time.
Christine Keeler lived with the consequences of her notoriety for the rest of her life, saddled with the label of ‘prostitute’. As she said: “It’s been a misery for me, living with Christine Keeler”. Under constant scrutiny from the press, she became a recluse. In the later years of her life, the tabloid press still hunted Keeler, featuring exposé shots focusing on her appearance as an older woman.
The curator of this exhibition Fionn Wilson says: “Christine Keeler is a significant figure in British history yet there is little recent artistic reference to her. I wanted to add to the visual record of her life, which represents themes still relevant to this day including class, power and the politics of sex. The participating artists are women who offer their own perspective on a narrative that has mostly been led by men.”
Pauline Boty, a founder of the British Pop movement in the Sixties, painted Christine Keeler in the lost work ‘Scandal 63’ and as part of ‘Dear Christine’, artist, feminist and activist Caroline Coon will be exhibiting a homage to the missing painting. Previously unseen photographs will be shown during the exhibition, courtesy of James Birch, a renowned curator and friend of Keeler’s.
Contributors to the catalogue accompanying the exhibition include journalist Julie Burchill, art historian Kalliopi Minioudaki and Amanda Coe, screenwriter and executive producer of the upcoming BBC series ‘The Trial of Christine Keeler’. The catalogue also includes a foreword from Keeler’s son, Seymour Platt.
‘Dear Christine’ comprises painting, ceramics, sculpture, music, film, poetry, performance, artist talks and workshops from national and internationally renowned artists. The exhibition is also a major part of this year’s Swansea Fringe Festival. It has recently shown at Vane in Newcastle upon Tyne and will tour next to ARTHOUSE1 in London.
Including music from Katie Chatburn and poetry from Guinevere Clark, Mari Ellis Dunning, Kathryn Gray, Natalie Ann Holborow, Gemma June Howell, Patrick Jones, Jo Mazelis and Jeni Williams.
(Image: ‘Christine, burn baby, burn’ (Stella Vine, 2012))