Tamsyn Challenger is a British artist based in London and Cornwall. Her acclaimed gender-political work '400 Women' took five years to create and addresses issues of mortality and the capacity of art to imagine the dead, violence and trauma. Since 2010 her work has been exhibited across the UK and internationally. She's been an invited speaker at the WOW Festival, UAL, RHUL, Oxford and Cambridge Universities. She has made documentary for the BBC and is the recipient of several GFA's from the Arts Council.
The installation 'Monoculture', launched in 2013, explores the 'selfie' portrait and self-representation in an age of social media, sexuality and the effects of cultural homogeneity. She discusses the hidden controls imposed on a supposedly free environment like the Internet by conflating these ideas with so-called 'cash crops' and CCD (colony collapse disorder) in bee colonies. This work was developed in residence at Beaconsfield, Vauxhall where it was recommended by the Contemporary Art Society. The installation was last shown at Summerhall in Edinburgh for the Edinburgh Art Festival 2014 where it was described by the New Scientist as 'mesmerising and horrifying in equal measure'.
Challenger's work has featured in various journals and publications including the Beaconsfield History 'Chronic Epoch'. In 2012 Challenger, alongside Yoko Ono, Judy Chicago and Carolee Schneemann, was asked to contribute to a new protest book 'Let's Start a Pussy Riot' in order to raise funds towards the costs of the trial of the arrested ‘Pussy Riot’ members. It was published in collaboration with 'Pussy Riot' and four London-based feminist collectives in 2013 by Rough Trade Records.
In 2018 Challenger curated her first exhibition which sprang out of this previous association with the 'Pussy Riot'. It aimed to be not only an archive work but a celebration of visual artists’ ability and capacity for protest. The exhibition was predominantly made up of archive work from 2012 when the 'Riot' sent out their call to arms to the creative community, some of this work was also featured in the 'Let's Start a Pussy Riot' book. The exhibition was called ‘Free The Pussy!’ and held in Edinburgh between Aug and Oct 2018. Upon opening, it went to the top of the Guardian's Top 5 National Exhibitions list and stayed in the line up for three weeks. It was featured on BBC Scotland with the Pussy Riot collective and BBC Edinburgh Nights with Nish Kumar. Interviews appeared in Studio International, LA Review of Books, The List, The National, and the Scotsman amongst others.
Artists featured in the 'Free The Pussy!' exhibition were No Bra, Judy Chicago, Tamsyn Challenger, Billy Chyldish, Gaggle, Gera (Nadya Tolokonnikova’s daughter), The Gluts, Hayley Newman, Yoko Ono, Miss Pokeno, Pussy Riot, Jamie Reid, John Keane, Layla Sailor, Wendy Saunders, Carolee Schneemann and Voina.
Her project 'Twitter Chorus' was a further development taken from the ideas behind 'Monoculture' and was voiced for the first time in England in 2015 at the Southbank Centre. It has subsequently been performed at the New Hall Art Collection, MEC, Cambridge University in November 2015 with renowned anarchic performance group Gaggle. In March 2016 this work was staged on a dramatic scale with hundreds of voices from multiple choirs as part of the Chorus Festival, Southbank Centre.
In 2016 she returned to Summerhall with new work ‘HYPER BOWL’ that was developed and shown for their visual art festival programme, and written up in the Times as 'the paramount, walk-in art for the age of Trump'.
She is currently making a new body of work addressing female sexuality that sees a departure from previous projects. The series 'Before you. With you. After you.' is confessional and personal, and draws upon her own recent history. An initial 'scratch' sculpture was on display until recently as part of the collection in the Royal Holloway University Picture Gallery. This was unveiled ahead of the David Vilaseca Public Memorial Lecture she was invited to deliver in 2017, entitled 'On Truth'. A podcast and transcript of the lecture is available here. Post the lecture she has been appointed a member of the Advisory Committee of the Centre for Visual Cultures at Royal Holloway University.
Challenger was born in Penzance and studied at Winchester School of Art and at the University for the Creative Arts where she has since been a visiting lecturer.
Her work has gained interest from collectors and institutions and can be found in private collections.