Self-Portrait by Effie Spring Smith, oil on canvas, 47x36cm Connie Winn, c. 1973, Girl in a Yellow Hat, oil on panel, 36x30cm image_home_03.jpg image_home_04.jpg

An artist-led collaborative project focusing on work by twentieth century women artists

Book cover including a painting by Kathleen Walne and text

Project news -
Listening to Kathleen Walne

Obscure Secure’s new 40 page illustrated publication Listening to Kathleen Walne, beautifully designed by Caravan, is now available to buy directly from us.

Listening to Kathleen Walne costs £10 and includes packing and 1st class postage (to UK). Use link below to contact us.

The publication is also available from the Towner Eastbourne shop.

The publication is a culmination of our collaborative work to date on artist Kathleen Walne, including essays by Jennifer Higgie, Rebecca Fortnum, Karen Taylor and Emma Roodhouse. It also features a selection of work and archival material of Kathleen Walne’s and written responses from visitors to our residency at Towner Eastbourne in July. It aims to frame both Obscure Secure’s collaborative practice and Kathleen Walne’s work and life within the context of the visibility of women artists and the challenges for public collections around representation.

Images show a selection of pages from the publication (first image shows front and back cover).

Contact Obscure Secure

Project news -
Obscure Secure at Towner Eastbourne

We (Hayley Field and Jacqueline Utley) are delighted to announce our new project working with Towner Eastbourne. This project is an exciting opportunity for us to develop our exploration of twentieth century women artists in collections as artist researchers from a radical position of care.
The project, funded by Arts Council National Lottery Project Grants, will connect with Towner’s current exhibitions around gallerist and collector Lucy Wertheim. Since 2018, we have researched the artist Kathleen Walne (1915-2011), whose work is included in the Towner Collection and will be featured in A Life in Art: Lucy Wertheim, Patron, Collector, Gallerist & Reuniting the Twenties Group: From Barbara Hepworth to Victor Pasmore.

Having fallen in love with Walne’s work at Christchurch Mansion (Ipswich) we have since met with her family and begun to catalogue her work and archive. In July 2022 we will work in residence at Towner Eastbourne during the Wertheim exhibitions, conducting research, sharing our processes, and inviting visitors to become active researchers. We will reveal our findings through a new publication launched in September 2022 at a discussion event, which will also focus on issues around gender imbalance and the underrepresentation of women artists in collections.

Obscure Secure Residency
The residency takes place during the Wertheim exhibitions, A Life in Art: Lucy Wertheim and Reuniting the Twenties Group and will encourage visitors to become active researchers. The artists’ cataloguing and archiving processes focus on the work of Kathleen Walne (1915-2011) as fellow painters from a position of care. Kathleen, who was represented by and worked for Lucy Wertheim as a young artist, also cared for her in old age.

Lucy’s Women: Artists’ Research Workshop
Aimed at early career artists but open to all artists – you are invited to work with Obscure Secure to research women artists in the Wertheim exhibitions. Following an introduction to a selection of works in the exhibition with curator Karen Taylor, Hayley Field and Jacqueline Utley will share their working process as practice-based artist researchers. During the workshop we will ask key questions around the visibility of women artists and collectively explore themes that arise from researching the work and lives of some of the women artists featured in the exhibitions. The day will include the opportunity to look at a selection of archive material and reflect on your own practice.
Lucy’s Women: Artists’ Research Workshop

Adventure in Art Book Group
Re-printed for the first time since it was originally published in 1947, an opportunity to explore Lucy Wertheim’s memoir Adventure in Art, with Obscure Secure artists Hayley Field and Jacqueline Utley. The discussion will focus on women artists in the Wertheim exhibitions and how they are represented in the book.
Adventure in Art Book Group
Adventure in Art Book Group online

Addressing the Absences: Discussion Day
A discussion event addressing the gender imbalance in collections and archives.
Women and non-binary artists are represented in public collections, but in small proportion and their stories often remain hidden. Much work is being done to redress underrepresentation in collections. We acknowledge this discussion event will not address all the absences in our public collections but that it will contribute to wider conversation and action. This event brings together artists, curators, art historians, and interested groups and individuals for a day of presentations and open discussion. A welcoming space to explore gender imbalance from a range of perspectives, focusing on the visibility of women artists in public collections and archives.
Confirmed contributors to date include Rebecca Birrell, Curator and author of This Dark Country; Natalie Bradbury, writer and researcher; Lauren Craig and Gina Nembhard, X Marks the Spot and Rita Keegan Archive Project; Harriet Loffler, Curator of The Women’s Art Collection; Obscure Secure artists Hayley Field and Jacqueline Utley; Karen Taylor, Curator of the Wertheim exhibitions; Renee Vaughan Sutherland, artist.
Addressing the Absences: Discussion Day

The Discussion Day also provides an opportunity for us to launch our new publication on Kathleen Walne after our residency and research period at the Towner. The publication will include contributions from Jennifer Higgie, Rebecca Fortnum, Emma Roodhouse, Karen Taylor and more. The publication is included in the Discussion Day ticket price.

Towner Eastbourne >

11 June 2022

Kathleen Walne
The Carpet Slippers, Watercolour, 1933, 53 x 36 cm


Studio One: Tuesday 12 – Sunday 17 July, 10am till 5pm, free drop-in


Studio One: Wednesday 13 July, 10am till 4pm, free, booking essential


Studio One: Thursday 14 July, 11am till 1pm (in person at Towner) free, booking essential

Online: Thursday 1 Sept, 6pm till 8pm (zoom event) free, booking essential

Auditorium: Wednesday 21 September, 10am till 4pm, booking essential
Ticket £14, concession £10 (includes entry to exhibitions and Obscure Secure publication)

Blog post –
Working week



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25 October 2019

Exhibition –

Work by Claudia Böse, Hayley Field and Jacqueline Utley is  included in an exhibition of 100 works to mark the centenary of the Representation of the People Act that first gave some women the right to vote.

Curated by Emma Roodhouse, the exhibition includes works by artists from the 1700s to the present day, including the work of Suffolk suffragette Amy K Browning, Prunella Clough, Blanche Vulliamy, Anna Airy and many more.


7 December 2018 – 5 May 2019
1 Upper High Street
Ipswich IP1 3NE