Dear Christine

1-29 June 2019 - Vane, Newcastle (Talk: Saturday 29 June 2019)
4 October - 9 November 2019 - Elysium, Swansea
1 - 29 February 2020 - Arthouse1, London SE1

Natalie d’Arbeloff, Helen Billinghurst, 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.

Welcome to the Sixties (detail), 2017

Dear Christine aims to reclaim and reframe Christine Keeler (1942-2017), a woman castigated for her role in a notorious political scandal in the 1960s. Aged 19, she was catapulted into the limelight when her affair with John Profumo, the Secretary of State for War, was revealed. The Profumo Affair was a watershed moment in British cultural and political history that 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 and the hypocrisy of the establishment. As a woman behaving in a sexually free way, she pushed boundaries ahead of her time.

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 continued to hunt Keeler, featuring exposé shots focusing on her appearance as an older woman.

Exhibition curator 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.'

The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue with full colour illustrations, essays and poetry, in a limited edition of 100. Contributors to the catalogue include: David Astbury, James Birch, Julie Burchill, Sarah Caulfield, Amanda Coe, Tanya Gold, Tara Hanks, Charlotte Innes, Cathy Lomax, Kalliopi Minioudaki, Bo Gorzelak Pedersen, Seymour Platt.

Supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England and Arts Council of Wales.

Talk at Vane, Newcastle - Saturday 29 June, 2-3.30pm
Cathy Lomax: Girls on Film
Christine Keeler is just one of the many real women who have been depicted on film. All too often, salacious aspects of their lives are foregrounded and this overshadows a rounded portrait of who they are. In this talk, Cathy Lomax will look at how Keeler has been portrayed in the films Scandal (1989) and The Keeler Affair (1963) alongside a broader look at images of women on screen and how this connects with Lomax’s art practice. The talk will be illustrated with film clips. Cathy Lomax is an artist and director of Transition Gallery, London. She is currently researching the female film star image for a PhD in Film Studies at Queen Mary University of London.


Welcome to the Sixties

The Keeler Affair
'Looking at
Christine Keeler in
The Keeler Affair'

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