National Museum of Women in the Arts
Margaret Harrison
May 24 1940 - present
Photograph of Margaret Harrison, by Conrad Atkinson, courtesy of the artist
Place of Birth:
British – English
Phonetic Spelling:
MAHR-ghe-reht HAHR-ih-suhn
Work Type/Media:
Drawings and prints, Multimedia (electronic, digital, video, film), Painting, Photography, Installation Art
Artistic Role(s):
Caricaturist, Filmmaker, Installation Artist, Landscape Painter, Painter, Photographer, Watercolorist
Feminist Art
Artist's Statement:
Margaret Harrison was born in Wakefield, England in 1940. In 1957 she began attending classes at Carlisle College of Art. At both Carlisle and then later at the Royal Academy School in London she studied painting. Harrison became steeped in the influences of Pop art, and was greatly influenced by Feminism of the 1970s.

From her first exhibition, Harrison has been a controversial artist, even provoking legal action. Her first solo exhibition in 1971 contained drawings that blurred gender boundaries and satirized representations of women in the media. The show included a drawing titled Captain America which depicted an overly muscled man in the form of a comic book superhero. The figure also sports fake breasts, stockings, and very high heels. Harrison was exploring themes of media exploitation of the feminine form, as well as gender stereotypes. Famously, her drawing of Hugh Hefner as a bunny girl was stolen from the exhibition. Due to the incendiary nature of her works, the police shut down the exhibition and charged her with obscenity.

Throughout her career Harrison has continued to explore the issues surrounding gender roles and the exploitation of women. From 1973 to 1975 she and some fellow artists organized the exhibition Women and Work: A Document of the Division of Labour in Industry. It contained photographs, sound tapes, documentation, and a film that examined the struggles of female factory workers in London. In her work at this time, Harrison dealt with themes such as violence against women and wage inequity in the workforce.

More recently, Harrison has turned the focus of her work to such issues as the environment and nuclear war. She also lectures internationally and is a Senior Research Professor and Director of the Social and Environmental Art Research Centre at Manchester Metropolitan University.

Other Occupation(s):
Director (Administration), Lecturer, Professor, Writer
Place(s) of Residence:
Where Trained/Schools:
Accademia di Belle Arti Pietro Vannuci, Perugia, Italy (1965) Royal Academy Schools, London, England (1961-1964) Carlisle College of Art, Carlisle, England (1957-1961)
Related Visual Artists:
collaborated with Conrad Atkinson collaborated with Kay Hunt collaborated with Mary Kelly
Fellowships, grants and awards:
Artist in Residence, Intersection for the Arts, San Francisco, CA, USA (2003-2004) Millennium Artist Award, Northern Arts, Newcastle upon Tyne, England (2001) Artist in Residence, Queensland Film and Drama Centre, Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia (1982)
Earliest exhibition:
First Women’s Liberation Art Group Exhibition, Woodstock Gallery, London, England (1971)
NMWA exhibition(s):
WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution
Artist retrospective(s):
Unpacking: A Ten-Year Survey of Work by Margaret Harrison, Atlanta College of Art Gallery, Atlanta, GA, USA (1999) Retrospective, Abbot Hall Art Gallery, Kendal, England (1989)