Exhibitions: FREE



Saturday 11 February - Sunday 18 June 2023


Join us for a BIG exhibition celebrating the creative achievements of women in art!

Curated by one of Britain’s most significant contemporary artists – Sarah Lucas – and featuring the work of over twenty high-profile female artists, the BIG WOMEN exhibition includes a variety of works that will make you think, laugh and reflect on the role women play in the creative world.

Works included in the exhibition range from sculpture, painting, film to fashion, with works by artists including Renata Adela, Erica Åkerlund, Fiona Banner aka The Vanity Press, Kate Boxer, Yoko Brown, Angela Bulloch, Phillippa Clayden, Sonia Coode-Adams, Vanessa Fristedt, Maggi Hambling, Pam Hogg, Rachel Howard, Merilyn Humphreys, Patricia Jordan, Princess Julia, Abigail Lane, Tory Lawrence, Millie Laws, Polly Morgan, Clare Palmier, Georgina Starr, Milly Thompson, Gillian Wearing, Sue Webster, and Lucas herself.

Inspired by conversations with friends and fellow artists, BIG WOMEN explores the questions and themes relating to womanhood, of societal expectations surrounding age, beauty, fashion and identity; celebrating women’s myriad achievements in the arts.

“So much emphasis in our culture is on youth. When the media wants to arouse our sympathy it’s all about children. The fashion and advertising media concentrates on young female beauty. The older woman is often overlooked, irrelevant, without currency. We live in an increasingly ageist society and this affects women disproportionately.

 I see BIG WOMEN as both an endorsement and a celebration of women’s achievement in the creative field. It aspires to be thought provoking, funny, serious, attractive and fun. God knows we need it in these times dominated by male aggression, politicking, greed, war and pig-headedness.”

 – Sarah Lucas

About Sarah Lucas

Sarah Lucas lives and works in Suffolk, very close to the Essex border and Firstsite’s home of Colchester. Over the course of two decades, she has become recognised as one of Britain’s most significant contemporary artists. Spanning sculpture, photography and installation, her work has consistently been characterised by irreverent humour and the use of everyday ‘readymade’ objects. Sarah studied at Goldsmiths College where she exhibited in the now historic Freeze exhibition in London’s Docklands in 1988. Her work has since been exhibited in venues across the globe. In 2015 she represented Great Britain at the 56th International Art Exhibition, Venice Biennale.


The exhibition has been made possible with support from Sadie Coles HQ, The Ampersand Foundation, The Coode Adams Firstsite Trust, and YesColours.
YesColours and Ampersand
BIG WOMEN exhibition Media Partner – Build Hollywood
Build Hollywood


Installation view of BIG WOMEN, showing Merilyn Humphreys' artwork



Image: Installation view, BIG WOMEN, Firstsite, 2023. Photograph by Richard Ivey


Merilyn Humphreys

We are deeply saddened by the passing of artist, Merilyn Humphreys.

Merilyn Humphreys studied fine art painting in the early 1990s. Her varied career has included stained glass making, antiques, furniture renovation and up-cycling, gardening and garden design.

Her practice recently stretched to embroidery, resulting in the two elaborate ‘tea-cosy’ creations, Garden of Eden (2020) and The Christmas story (2022-23) which are on display in BIG WOMEN, along with some of Merilyn’s other fantastic artworks Eve (1990-1991) , Crisis (1990-1991) and Et tu en Arcadia sum (1990-1991).

Merilyn’s vibrant artworks have a mystical quality which add to the many layers of BIG WOMEN and we are honoured to present these at Firstsite as part of the exhibition.

Our thoughts are with Merilyn’s family and friends and the BIG WOMEN artists at this sad time.

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Welcome area at Firstsite. 'Big Hello' (2018) Peter Liversidge. Photo by Jayne Lloyd.

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