Power for the People brings together over four decades of work by highly-acclaimed and influential British artist Rose Finn-Kelcey. Born in Northampton in 1945, Finn-Kelcey attended Ravensbourne College of Art and Design before moving to London in 1968 to study at Chelsea School of Art. She first came to prominence in the early 1970s as a central figure in Performance and Feminist art, and continued to develop an extensive output of innovative works throughout her career. Alongside her own practice, Finn-Kelcey taught at a number of art schools from the 1960s until her death in 2014. She was an abiding inspiration to many artists and significantly contributed to the development of the visual arts scene in Britain today.
This exhibition focusses on the key themes of self, empowerment and spirituality embedded in Finn-Kelcey’s work, exploring how they contribute to our own perception of identity. Her work is distinguished by its unpredictability; no two works are quite alike. Despite or perhaps because of this continual reinvention, it is possible to pick out the reoccurrence of these key ideas in many of Finn-Kelcey’s works. The exhibition title is taken from a flag called ‘Power for the People’ installed by the artist on Battersea Power Station in 1972. In the early 1970s, Finn-Kelcey was fascinated by the weather as a subject for art and made a number of ‘wind dependent objects’, that relied on this intangible natural force. Whether through political statement, individual vulnerability or personal faith, Power for the People reveals a process of finding our own place in the world – and often doing so with some humour.
In response to these works, and others that were not realised in her lifetime, Peter Liversidge (b.1973), who was a friend of Finn-Kelcey, will create a giant flag for the gallery’s entrance with the word ‘HELLO’ stitched in black on a white background, ushering visitors into the show. And Simon Moretti (b.1974), who was also a close friend of the artist, will show a neon work depicting a lightening strike, taken from an 18th century Indian painting. Finn-Kelcey greatly admired this work by Moretti, an image of divine intervention often used by the Gods and shown as a weapon.
Born in 1945, Finn-Kelcey studied at Ravensbourne and then at Chelsea College of Art, before embarking on one of Britain’s most significant post-war artistic journeys. She continued to live and work in London from 1968 until her death in 2014.
Over the course of her career Finn-Kelcey exhibited at numerous galleries in the UK including, in London, the Royal Academy of Art, Whitechapel Gallery, Chisenhale Gallery, Matt’s Gallery, the Serpentine Galleries, the Hayward Gallery, the Saatchi Gallery, Camden Arts Centre and Tate Britain; also at the Ikon gallery in Birmingham and the Irish Museum of Modern Art in Dublin. Worldwide, Finn-Kelcey exhibited at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, the New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York, The British School at Rome, and at Documenta IX, Kassel. Most recently, she was the subject of a major show at MoMA, Oxford, Rose Finn-Kelcey: Life, Belief and Beyond (2017).
Her work can be found in national and international collections, most notably within the Tate collection, The Arts Council Collection, The British Council Collection, The Victoria & Albert Collection, the Weltkunst Foundation and the Bernard Starkman Collection.