We (Hayley Field and Jacqueline Utley) are artists working collaboratively as Obscure Secure. Our practice based research explores the visibility of women artists in collections.
A meeting with curator Emma Roodhouse in 2013 brought an opportunity to look at the work made by women in the collection at Christchurch Mansion, Ipswich (2014). The following project, Red Studio Enquiry, focused on Mary Potter (1900-1981) and enabled us to spend research time working in residence in Potter’s home and studio (part of Britten Pears Arts) before sharing findings at a symposium event (2017) and on the Obscure Secure website.
In 2017 we started researching the artist Kathleen Walne (1915-2011), whose work is included in the collections of Towner Eastbourne, Salford Museum and Art Gallery and Auckland Art Gallery.
Our residency at Towner Eastbourne during the Wertheim exhibitions A Life in Art: Lucy Wertheim and Reuniting the Twenties Group (June – September 2022), shared our research processes and invited visitors to become active researchers. Our publication, Listening to Kathleen Walne, was launched in September 2022 at a discussion event focusing on issues around gender imbalance and the underrepresentation of women artists in collections.
Our projects have been funded by Arts Council England National Lottery Project Grants.
Obscure Secure is a collaborative project, initiated by artists Claudia Böse, Hayley Field and Jacqueline Utley.
The name Obscure Secure was taken from one of The Hawstead Panels at Christchurch Mansion, most available writing about the panels say they were probably painted by Lady Drury in 1610. The panel ‘Obscure Secure’ has an image of a bear in a cave with the text beneath it. We decided to use this title because the words and image resonated with working with collections, where work is often hidden but kept safe.