Monica Sjöö (1938-2005) Artist, Activist and Writer

“Her gift to us is measureless as is her integrity and implacable dedication to the
tending of earth and the psychic health of awakening human beings.”
Alice Walker
God Giving Birth by Monica Sjöö, 1968. Copyright: MAN - Anna Nordlander Museum. Skellefteå, Sweden.

In 1970 Monica Sjöö’s painting, God Giving Birth, was confiscated by the police from an exhibition in St Ives on the grounds of blasphemy and Sjöö was threatened with prosecution. This powerful, transgressive work , over 2 metres high, depicting a woman of colour straddling the cosmos and giving birth, is now recognised as an icon of feminist art history.

Monica Sjöö, born in Sweden in 1938, spent most of her life in Bristol, the south west and Wales. She was a key figure on the Women’s Liberation Movement, campaigning, organising, demonstrating. She wrote passionately about the transformative potential of art as a revolutionary act in essays published in an important text that inspired the UK feminist art movement: “Towards a Revolutionary Feminist Art”(1971). Also a pioneering feminist scholar of goddess/matriarchal cultures she produced powerful paintings and also posters, banners, drawings, graphic designs all informed by or at the service of her revolutionary intentions.

Key themes emerge in her art and her activism: the rights of women of all ethnicities, classes and sexualities; the ecological, with a strong sense of interconnectedness with the earth; the spiritual relating to Gaia, goddess worship and sacred sites. Her work resonates strongly with current concerns around climate change, ecological collapse, racial equality and the place of women in global culture.

The moment has come for a full recognition of Monica Sjöö’s contribution to art, radical politics, eco-feminism and Goddess studies.

/Sue Tate

Posters by Monica Sjöö. Copyright: Family Estate.