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Interview with Linsey Young, Curator of Tate Britain’s show ‘Women in Revolt!’

How did the idea for this exhibition come about?
Margaret Harrison, Banana Woman, 1971. Watercolour, coloured graphite and graphite on paper, 518 x 637 mm. Purchased 2008, Tate
At Tate, I specialise in contemporary British art and became frustrated at my own lack of understanding of work by women artists in recent British history. Despite studying to postgrad level, I was only ever taught about a handful of women artists – all white – and I knew there must be a lot more that our audiences were missing out on. We’ve tried to make a show that uncovers a huge and diverse range of stories, many of which haven’t been present in a mainstream institution so far.
What discussions at play are put forward in this show and why does this feel particularly relevant today?
Su Richardson, Sand Souvenir, 1975-76 © Su Richardson Courtesy of Richard Saltoun Gallery, London and Rome. All rights reserved, DACS 2023
Almost too many to mention! There are discussions around bodily autonomy, institutional racism, gender identity, labour, state violence, homophobia and ecological concerns. All of these topics that new generations of feminists are discussing again. I am also very interested in the economic context on the radical practices that were affected by conservative leadership in the 1980’s which feels pertinent today.
How did you select which artists/works were going to feature in this show?

Helen Chadwick, In the Kitchen (Stove), 1977 © The Estate of the Artist. Courtesy Richard Saltoun Gallery, London and Rome
With great difficulty. I embarked on a few years’ worth of studio and archive visits, meeting as many of the artists in the show in person as I possibly could to ensure that our relationship was reciprocal and not extractive. I also asked them to recommend people to me who I might not have come across previously. Final considerations were made around those artists and artworks who could best demonstrate a narrative around socialist, queer and intersectional practices.
If you could choose one work to focus on or that you believe is particularly important, which one would it be?
Gina Birch, still from 3 Minute Scream, 1979 (3) 
The point of the show is not to single out any one work which is, I’ve come to think, a very patriarchal way of looking at things. I’m certain a person seeing the show or listening to the accompanying podcast will find an artwork that speaks directly to them.
What challenges were you faced with when finding pieces for this exhibition?
See Red Women’s Workshop, 1974-1990, Tough! My Message to the Women of Our Nation…, 1979. See Red Women’s Workshop
One of our biggest challenges has been conservation. Many of the works in the exhibition had not been on display since the 70s or 80s and many hadn’t been stored in optimum conditions, so we have had to work with a huge number of conservators up and down the country to get everything ready for the show.
What do you think will surprise visitors in this show?

Lesley Sanderson, Time For A Change, 1988.
That this show didn’t happen years ago!
How do you hope this show will be received?

Linder, Untitled, 1976. Printed papers on paper, 172 x 185 mm. Purchased in 2007 by Tate
My dearest hope is that women of that generation feel properly represented and celebrated because their achievements were extraordinary.
Penny Slinger, Spirit Impressions – 5, 1974. Richard Saltoun Gallery (London, UK)
Linsey Young is a Curator of Contemporary British Art at Tate Britain.