Oh America – Gee Vaucher: Introspective exhibition, Firstsite, Colchester, Essex

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Oh America, 1989, gouache, 230x230mm ©Gee Vaucher, courtesy Firstsite

by Guy Sangster-Adams

It’s the image that took over social media from the moment that Donald Trump was announced as the new US President elect, The Statue of Liberty in tears with her head in her hands. But for most of yesterday the image was shared without reference to the artist who created it. This morning the image was the entire front page of the British mass market newspaper, Daily Mirror, and was also on the front page of the German newspaper, Handelsblatt. Since when the image has trended again throughout the day, but this time predominantly with the artist and the title of the image credited.

The iconic picture, Oh America, was created 27 years ago by British artist, Gee Vaucher.

Born in 1945 in East London, Vaucher attended the South East Essex School of Art & Design from 1961 to 1966, and then in 1967 inspired by the film, Inn of the Sixth Happiness, she and her lifelong creative partner, Penny Rimbaud, Dial House, a 17th century cottage in Essex which they turned into an open house for living and artistic experimentation. Just under 50 years later she still lives and works in Dial House.

In 1977, Dial House also gave rise to the collective/anarcho-punk band, Crass, of which Vaucher and Rimbaud were founder members. Vaucher created a series of iconic cover artworks for the band, and she continues to design covers to this day. Indeed Oh America was originally used as the cover artwork for the album, Friendly Hand Grenade, by the band Tackhead.

This Saturday, 12th November, the first ever survey of Vaucher’s artwork, Gee Vaucher: Introspective, opens at Firstsite gallery, Colchester, Essex, UK. In addition to Oh America, the exhibition brings together more than 200 works, many of which have never been shown in public before, and offers a complete overview of her fifty-year career, revealing the multifarious forces that have inspired and shaped her artistic practice.

Gee Vaucher: Introspective
Firstsite, Lewis Gardens, High Street, Colchester, Essex. CO1 1JH
12th November 2016 – 19th February 2017
Monday – Sunday, 10am – 5pm
http://www.firstsite.uk/

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