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Borrowing its title from Erich Neumann’s book of female archetypes, THE GREAT MOTHER is a duo exhibition by Blythe Taylor (UK) and Lise Tovesdatter Skou (DK) that considers women’s labour through an agricultural lens.

The archetypal “Great Mother” connotes ideas of fertility, care, and abundance - she is a womb that carries seed, a vessel of production, whose role is to provide, nurture and nourish. This vision of womanhood has been idealized across cultures and historical eras. Many famous examples of the Great Mother figure - such as Demeter, Greek goddess of harvest and agriculture - make obvious the connection between reproductive fertility and food production. But it is dangerous to conflate women’s bodies and nature’s bounty. The relations between female labour and agriculture are layered and complex, especially as a function of capitalism.

It is with this in mind that Taylor and Tovesdatter Skou developed The Great Mother exhibition for the window at AirSpace Gallery. Each half of the window contains a hanging installation of woven artworks, made with natural materials and encoded with pattern.

Blythe Taylor’s installation features a series of corn dolls, which are small, decorative objects made by braiding wheat straws together into three-dimensional patterns. Historically used as a kind of talisman, corn dolls were believed to house the spirit of the crop over winter, and were used in various harvest rituals across the UK (many of which were explicitly gendered). Taylor’s corn dolls assume traditional shapes such as the Country Man’s Favour and the Spiral/Drop Dolly. The dolls are suspended from the gallery’s ceiling to form a spatial pattern reminiscent of those printed on domestic textiles.

For her work entitled Silent Speech, Lise Tovesdatter Skou has woven a long, narrow tablecloth using flax that was grown and spun by a group of elderly women in rural Denmark. Unfolding along the length of the tablecloth is an image of sound waves, taken from audio recordings of the artist in conversation with women about hidden labour, care work, and precarity. Tovesdatter Skou wove this sonic pattern with medicinal plants from her own garden, such as the herbal antidepressant hypericum perforatum. Such materials underscore the artist’s feminized work (gardening, weaving) with caregiving in the domestic sphere.


Lise Tovesdatter Skou is an interdisciplinary artist involved in artist-driven research and knowledge sharing projects. She has a strong interest in hidden economies, structures of value and care issues. In her most recent work she deals with female history, the silent figure and hidden structures of mental, social and economic precarity. Current projects include: Are You Listening-Performing the Cure at 68 Art Institute (Copenhagen) (2022), and The Feminist Supermarket at Ormston House (2021) Limerick (IR). Recent publications include: The Emergence of a Manifesto (2019).

Blythe Taylor uses the medium of film to explore her interests in Marxist theory and, more recently, ecology. Gardening has become an inseparable element of her artistic practice; sowing, planting, harvesting, storing and preserving foods which have been grown on her small allotment plot. Previous projects have explored the issue of gentrification and the position of ‘the artist’ within that process. Taylor studied filmmaking at Kingston University London and graduated in 2015. She is currently based in AirSpace Gallery’s studios in Stoke-on-Trent, UK.


The Great Mother is the 11th exhibition in Call & Response, a series that activates two window galleries as sites for collaborative exhibition-making. For this project AirSpace Gallery has partnered with The Demo Room at Galleri Image in Aarhus, Denmark.

Earlier in the project, Blythe Taylor and Lise Tovesdatter Skou mounted back-to-back solo exhibitions in The Demo Room, where Skou’s exhibition was made in direct response to Taylor’s. These exhibitions also explored the artists’ shared interest in female labour and food production, but with a focus on value - the value of women’s work and the value of homemade foods.

Call & Response is curated by Pamela Grombacher, in collaboration with AirSpace Gallery and Galleri Image. The project is supported by the Danish Art Foundation, the City of Aarhus (Kulturudviklingspuljen), Arts Council England, and Stoke-on-Trent City Council.