PRIVATE VIEW – Invitation Only
A tribute to Christine Keeler
exhibition opens 2 – 29th February 2020
symposium 22nd February 11am – 7pm
Conceived and curated by Fionn Wilson
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 and Fionn Wilson
David Astbury, Helen Billinghurst, James Birch, Julie Burchill, Sarah Caulfield, Katie Chatburn,
Guinevere Clark, Amanda Coe, Mari Ellis Dunning, Fine Cell Work, Tanya Gold, Kathryn Gray, Tara Hanks,
Natalie Ann Holborow, Gemma June Howell, Charlotte Innes, Patrick Jones, Jo Mazelis, Charlotte Metcalf,
Kalliopi Minioudaki, Bo Gorzelak Pedersen, Seymour Platt and Jeni Williams
‘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.
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.
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.”
Pauline Boty, a founder of the British Pop movement in the Sixties, painted 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 renowned curator James Birch. Contributors to the exhibition catalogue include journalists Julie Burchill, Tanya Gold 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.
Soon to be released...
The Trial of Christine Keeler
A six-part BBC Drama series written by award-winning screenwriter Amanda Coe (also executive producer).
29th December 2019 on BBC ONE At 9pm
The Trial Of Christine Keeler takes a fresh look at one of the most infamous British stories: the chain of events in the 1960s that came to be known as the Profumo Affair. At the centre of the storm was 19-year-old Christine Keeler – a young woman whom the powerful, male-dominated establishment sought to silence and exploit, but who refused to play by their rules. Starring Sophie Cookson, James Norton, Ben Miles, Emilia Fox, Nathan Stewart-Jarrett, Anthony Welsh and Ellie Bamber.
Selected Image credits: Adaptation of J.M Martin's postcard, 1964. Caroline Coon, Christine Keeler: Anger, Blame, Shame, Ruin, Grief, 2019, oil on canvas. Marguerite Horner, Paparazzi, 2017, oil on canvas. Claudia Clare, Christine Keeler: An Uncertain Pilgrimage, 2019, slip painted earthenware, glazed, with gold leaf. Roxana Halls, Laughing While Smashing (for Mandy and Christine), 2018, oil on linen. Stella Vine, Christine, burn baby, burn, 2012, acrylic on heavy-weight handmade paper. Wendy Nelson, Member of the Establishment, 2017, rolling male mannequin; wood; papier mâché; pinstripe; brass trouser zips; recycled ties and denim from charity shop. Sal Jones, I took on the sins of a generation, 2016, oil on canvas. Cathy Lomax, Welcome to the Sixties, 2017, oil on canvas. Julia Maddison, Remains, 2017, plastic bag. Sadie Lee, Scandalous, 2019, oil on canvas. Fine Cell Work, Christine in gold, 2016, gold dupioni silk with embroidered lettering using a Sixties font ‘Parisienne’. Photograph on loan courtesy of James Birch.