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Monica Sjöö – self-described ‘radical anarcho/eco-feminist and Goddess artist, writer and thinker involved in Earth spirituality’ – was born in Sweden in 1938, moved to the UK, lived in Bristol and died in 2005. Her life was touched with tragedy but her resilience was immense. Her art was intertwined with activism, feminism and goddess worship – she didn’t believe in a spirituality that wasn’t political. 

One of her best-known paintings God Giving Birth (1968) – which depicts the Creator as a monumental full-frontal, naked Black woman birthing her child – resulted in Sjöö being threatened with prosecution for obscenity and blasphemy and was removed from display three times.

For many years largely ignored by the mainstream art world, her work is being celebrated in a major survey show co-organised by Moderna Museet in Stockholm and Modern Art Oxford. This talk, an in-conversation between Amy Budd (Modern Art Oxford) and Su Fahy (Monica Sjöö Curatorial Collective), will explore Sjöö’s remarkable work, and its powerful ongoing relevance.

Monica Sjöö: The Great Cosmic Mother is open at Modern Art Oxford 18 November 2023 – 25 February 2024.

The Art of the Maker series is a collaboration between Arnolfini and The School of Art & Design and Centre for Fine Print Research at UWE Bristol.