By Arachne

There's been a Monica Sjöö exhibition on in Oxford for a few months and neither the poster images nor the language (the Great Cosmic Mother) drew me in. But when I saw a painting of hers at the 'Women in Revolt' exhibition at Tate Britain, I thought I should at least educate myself about someone who seemed to be an important artistic part of two struggles that I've been very involved in: feminism and environmentalism.

Nope - my first instinct was right. I have no patience with the Goddess or Earth Mother stuff: I do not believe that women are innately nurturing and gentle while men are not. Yes, there are hormonal differences (on average) but I have to believe that the main differences we observe are conditioning and that we can all be kind, we can all be strong and we can all moderate our violent instincts if we learn how. Patriarchy is shit but matriarchy is not the answer.

A few years ago I spent a long time thinking about what drew me to some art and not the rest. It can be aesthetically pleasing, it can be technically skilled, and it can make me think or feel something that changes me in some way. Very, very little art manages all three but I'm usually happy if one or two pieces in an exhibition manage two. I don't go into exhibitions with a checklist and I often forget about my criteria but as I was increasingly irritated by Monica Sjöö's work, I decided to look through those lenses. Hmm. One piece got one tick.

If you disagree with me, you're too late. It closes on Sunday. Sorry.

The picture is a piece of shiny capitalist tat from the shopping centre that Monica Sjöö would have been quite right to despise.

Black and white in colour 285

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