Rose Gibbs is an artist with several different strands to her practice: using the voice in participatory performances, sculpture, writing, organizing and presenting talks and collaborating with others. All are interconnected and attempt to elicit thinking about gender and its role in shaping the cultural landscape where the place of women seems fragile.
Her practice not only seeks to piece together often otherwise invisible histories and find ways to make them visible but also to learn from those histories where they resonate with the present: representing women whose life and work she admires, while also living the practices she draws from: providing networks, and opportunities that support other artists and causes that protect and promote gender equality. Much of her research is focused on feminist collectivity and childcare, in particular the work of The Hackney Flashers about whose project Who’s Holding the Baby? she gave a talk at Tate Britain. She has curated exhibitions at The Institute of Contemporary Art, The Showroom, Beaconsfield Vauxhall, Gallery Box Gothenburg and The Horse Hospital.
She has worked with the feminist activist group The East London Fawcett Group, Keep It Complex, the feminist economics organization The Women’s Budget Group and is currently working with Labour party activists as part of The Movement for Cultural Democracy, which has included re-writing the Cultural Policy Manifesto.
She runs the community organisation Mountford Growing Communityin the estate where she lives. In 2013 she was director of the One Billion Rising Arts Festival, a camapaign to end violence towards women and girls. She is a board member for Procreate Project, an organisation that provides practical support for artists, enabling them to continue producing work during pregnancy and motherhood through a range of initiatives and artistic productions. She writes a blog for Huff Post.
She is co-founder of a number of collaborations (some active, others dormant) including:
Practice In Dialogue
Practice in Dialogue is a small working group of feminist artists dedicated to examining the formal structures and strategies of historical feminist art alongside their own art practices. Founded in 2014 by Catherine Long and Rose Gibbs, Practice in Dialogue evolved out of a need to create a space in which to think critically about feminist art practices and offer the possibility for the thorough and interrogative conversation that is essential if feminism is to retain its potency. The group foregrounds the importance of art and feminism as lived practices that have the potential to unsettle hegemonic patriarchal structures. Avoiding the pitfalls of dominant heteronormative culture is not easy and, as such, the emphasis of the group is on feminism as an ongoing work-in-progress that calls for continual self-reflection and critical analysis.
Islands of Women Collective
Islands of Women Collective (writer Alice Albinia, artists Rose Gibbs and photographer Leonie Hampton) is a multi-disciplinary creative practice, set up to explore ancient and contemporary feminist cultures. It takes its name from Alice’s literary research into a series of ancient Greek, Roman, and medieval texts, all of which allude to British islands once ruled by women, including a late-medieval nationhood myth for ‘Albion’ about the flight of a group of Syrian women to the then-uninhabited islands of Britain. The collective enact metaphorical rites of passage by performing walks between islands, across sea-bed now passable at low tide but which - with rising sea levels - will be permanently covered in the future. In so doing they reflect on our ecological inheritance, link the climate crisis and its part in conflicts that have led to mass migration and draw out the relationship between work women traditionally do, caring for others, and the work of caring for the earth.
The collective seeks to find new visual, performative and literary languages, to revive old stories and create new ones that promotes and protects a more nurturing approach to the land and our bodies.
Let’s Talk About Motherhood: a workshop to support mothers and carers
These workshops explore what it is we need when we mother. Mothering can be seen broadly in terms of care with the intrinsic understanding that all humans are vulnerable: this care might be for a child, a friend or a parent, with these caring roles changing over the course of our lives. These workshops are for women who are mothers, for fathers who 'father/mother', for LGBTQ+ people who 'mother' hence for everyone who is the primary carer of a vulnerable infant/child or disabled or elderly person. With artist Rose Gibbs and researcher in law and human rights Sara Paiola.
Labours of Love
Labours of Love peer mentoring group brought together a number of artists, researchers, and designers who’s work considers affective labour and the physical and legal conditions in which it takes place as well as its expression within artistic practice. Led by artist Rose Gibbs at Cubitt Gallery and bringing together participants from a number of different disciplines and a wide age range the group was a forum for intergenerational exchange, and a site to nurture productive conversation and encourage cross-pollination.
The group looked at the legal and economic conditions in which care works takes place, and considered the migratory patterns from the economic south to the economic north that have emerged as a result of the west’s current care crisis and the growing need for care of the elderly. It explored the notion of a “labour of love” as it affects artists, carers and parents, and what is at stake psychologically in this work – where it is manifested in art works and art practices. They looked at how art can be used as a tool of affective labour, in collaborative projects. Looking back to art history the group considered works exploring affective labour, the maternal and how the use of the body, the domestic, and the intimate – vital aspects of affective labour – are spoken about within art discourse. They interrogated the taboos around these subjects, and the strategies artists have use to exploit or explore those taboos.
The Temporary Separatists
The Temporary Separatists is a woman* identified artist collective that seeks to explore the use of collectivism as a feminist methodology in art practice. This is research through praxis: The Temporary Separatists learn by doing: making exhibitions, conferences and essays collectively to explore its lived reality. They also learn by example creating dialogue with past and present collectives, creating a platform from which to disseminate knowledge and generate discussion producing the kind of art world in which they are interested in participating. *Women = Gender as distinct from Female = biological sex.
Womanhouse Project: a cross-generational group of feminist practitioners who seek to establish a space that becomes a collaboratively made artwork.