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Bobby Baker

Originally intended as a one-off performance work to make sense of the first eight years of motherhood, Bobby Baker’s Drawing on a Mother’s Experience (1988) gained widespread critical acclaim and went on to be shown multiple times over the next 12 years. Having learned caution as a mother and the ability to think ahead, the performance sites Baker as a meticulously prepared action painter, who has substituted oil paint and canvas for a double bed sheet and various foodstuffs. Poking fun at her male predecessors (artists such as Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning and others) Baker’s revelatory commentary interrogates domesticity, motherhood and the role of the artist, using each ingredient to represent a specific event or episode in her recent personal history.   

In 2015, the artist revisited the work and devised an updated version:

Drawing on a (Grand) Mother’s Experience (DOGME). This was first performed at WOW – Women of the World Festival at the Southbank Centre in 2015, following an invitation to re-stage Drawing on a Mother’s Experience. By then, a grandmother and as dedicated a feminist as ever, Baker chose to instead bring her original performance up to date. 

DOGME explores the experience of early motherhood from the more reflective vantage point of age and experience while considering the ongoing challenge of combining motherhood and parental responsibilities with the drive to retain autonomy.

For this event, marking the closing weekend of Acts of Creation, a film version of DOGME will be screened, followed by a talk by the artist –  a very welcome return to Arnolfini by Baker.

A woman dressed in a white uniform carrying two heavy shopping bags walks across a stage.

“Bobby Baker has rightly received plaudits around the world throughout her career for her originality, artistic courage and integrity. Like other great artists/authors she has constantly and candidly looped her own life experience into challenging and audacious performance pieces that entertain and liberate conversation around taboo subjects.”

Jude Kelly CBE, CEO and Founder of WOW – Women of the World Foundation, and former Artistic Director, Southbank Centre

Bobby Baker’s acclaimed intersectional feminist practice includes performance, drawing and installation, and persistently exposes the undervalued and stigmatised aspects of women’s daily lives, exemplified by pioneering works such as Drawing on a Mother’s Experience (1988) and Kitchen Show (1991).

Born in 1950 in Kent, she graduated from Painting at St. Martins School of Art (1972, now Central St Martins) and holds an Honorary Doctorate from Queen Mary University London.

Performances and installations include An Edible Family in a Mobile Home (1976) remade in 2023 as part of Women in Revolt! Art and Activism in the UK 1970–1990 at Tate Britain, London (2023/ 2024); EPIC DOMESTIC at The Tetley, Leeds as part of Leeds 2023 Year of Culture (2023); Great & Tiny War, Newcastle (2018); An Edible Family in a Mobile Home (1976), London; Drawing on a (Grand) Mother’s Experience, WOW-Women of the World Festival, London (2015); Kitchen Show (1991), London and touring; How to Live, Barbican Centre, London (2004); Table Occasions 9–15, Münchner Künstlerhaus (1998); How to Shop, Chicago International Festival of Arts (1996); Cook Dems, Harbour Front Centre, Toronto (1992); and Box Story, Arnolfini, Bristol (2001). Selected solo exhibitions include Tarros de Chutney, La Casa Encendida, Madrid (2019); Art Supermarket and Perpetuity in Icing, ICA, London (1978); and Diary Drawings: ‘Mental Illness’ and Me 1997–2008, Wellcome Collection, London (touring exhibition) (2009).

Forthcoming exhibitions and projects include Burning Down the House: Rethinking Family, Kunstmuseum St. Gallen, Switzerland (1 June to 8 September 2024); Women in Revolt! Art and Activism in the UK 1970–1990, National Galleries Scotland, Edinburgh (25 May 2024 to 26 January 2025) and An Edible Family in a Mobile Home (1976) remade in 2023 as part of Women in Revolt! Art and Activism in the UK 1970–1990 at Tate Britain, touring to the Whitworth, Manchester (7 March to 3 June 2025).

Bobby Baker lives and works in London.

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