Shelagh WAKELY (b. 1932, Madingley - 2011, London)
Shelagh Wakely was an experimental and influential pioneer of installation art. Born in the small village of Madingley, Cambridgeshire, in 1932, Wakely spent much of her youth in Kenya where her family lived a privileged colonial life. She returned to England as a teenager to study agriculture, but quickly turned to the arts, studying painting and screen-printing at the Chelsea College of Art (1958-1962). Wakely worked as a textile and clothing designer through the 1960s but a research fellowship at the Royal College of Art (1968-1971) led her to turn to sculpture. Wakely met the artist Tunga in 1989 and developed a close collaborative relationship, making video and performance works together. Her later career, from the mid-1990s onwards, was dominated by these works and the impact Brazil had on her.
Early exhibitions were held at the Serpentine Gallery, London,1977, ICA, London, 1979 and John Hansard Gallery, Southampton, 1982. These shows cemented her reputation as a multifaceted artist: installations, sculptures, drawings and paintings all incorporated across the breadth of her practice. Later landmark exhibitions include The British School at Rome, 1991, where she was a Fellow; IKON Gallery, Birmingham, 1992; Museu do Acude, Rio de Janeiro, 1993; an outdoor installation, Rainsquare, at the South London Gallery in 1994; Angel Row Gallery, Nottingham, 2002; and the recent retrospective A View from a Window at Camden Arts Centre, London, 2014. Public commissions include: Royal Albert Hall, London, 2001; Marunouchi Building, Tokyo 2002; Beckenham Beacon Hospital, Kent, 2009 and Nottingham University Hospital City Campus, Nottingham, 2010.