Shemilt, Elaine

Elaine Shemilt is an artist and researcher, especially known as a printmaking image maker. A pioneer of early feminist video and multi-media installation Shemilt continues to address the impact of war, conflict, censorship and constraint on psychologies and environments in her work.

“Shemilt’s powerful use of the body questions the perception, representation and objectification of female identity and the body. Her work challenges society at large and an art system that had relegated women artists to the margins. In the 1970’s, as the second wave feminists in the UK were battling for equality, pacifism, ecology and labour rights, Shemilt was exploring these topics to fight the marginalisation of women in art.” – Dr Laura Leuzzi

Shemilt is a graduate of Winchester School of Art and the Royal College of Art, and has exhibited internationally including the Hayward Gallery, Imperial War Museum, ICA London, Edinburgh International Festival, MACRO Roma, Bibliotheque Nationale de France and at Casa Goldoni Museum, Venice. Since 2018 her work has been touring within the exhibition Feminist Avant-Garde of the 1970s from the SAMMLUNG VERBUND Collection, Vienna to Stavanger Art Museum, Stavanger, Norway; Dům umění města Brna, Brno, Czech Republic; Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona, Spain, Lentos Kunstmuseum Linz, Austria, Museum of Contemporary Art Vojvodina, Novi Sad (Serbia), and Les Rencontres de la Photographie d’Arles Photographic Festival, Arles (France) in 2022. In 2021 at the MAXXI in Rome for S_HE DEVIL 12, the twelfth edition of the video art exhibition, she was declared as the ‘Godmother’ of European video performance through her work Doppelgänger.

Elaine is a founder member of The Centre for Remote Environments and The South Georgia Heritage Trust which were both established to promote the environmental protection and habitat restoration of this natural wilderness in the Southern Atlantic. She is a Shackleton Scholar, Fellow of the Royal Society of Geographers, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, professional member of Society of Scottish Artists. Shemilt established the printmaking department of the School of Fine Art, Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design (University of Dundee) in 1988 and was course director of printmaking from 1988-2001 and Chair of Printmaking from 2001-2021. She is retired from academia but remains Professor Emerita of fine art printmaking and a professional member and former President of the Society of Scottish Artists and was its president from March 2007 until 2010. She has collaborated with the video artist Stephen Partridge on a number of video installations, including “Rush” first exhibited at the Fieldgate Gallery, London in 2007, and “Quattro Minuti di Mezzogiorno”, a HiDefinition Video installation. Exhibited in Fuoriluogo 15 – Una Regressione Motivata, Limiti Inchiusi Arte Contemporanea, Campobasso, Molise, Italy. December 2010, January 2011. The exhibition included work by Fausto Colavecchia (IT), Douglas Gordon (GB), and was curated by Deirdre MacKenna, Director of Stills – Scotland’s centre for photography in Edinburgh.

She is Principal Investigator on the Arts & Humanities Research Council funded projects EWVA – European Women’s Video Art in the 70s and 80s and Richard Demarco | The Italian Connection.

Updated April 2022

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