The Long Run #9: Margaret Dodd on feminism, cars and identity


“Well, what I’d always noticed is the way men always had to be the drivers, right? And this was kind of a symbol of how they behaved in real life, in marriages and relationships, in business world, in politics, everywhere. They were always having to be the drivers.” So says Maragaret Dodd in the ninth episode of The Long Run, a podcast dedicated to talking with artists who have been practicing for 60 years.

Many people first discover Dodd’s practice through her brilliant ceramic holden cars from the early 1970s, where some are dressed up as brides, others as mothers and babies. Titled This Woman is Not a Car, the series also included a film of the same title. Based in feminist concerns, the iconic collection looks at themes central to Dodd’s work: femininity and masculinity, sexuality, capitalism and the links between car manufacturing and personal and national identity. They were recently collected in Dodd’s 2020 exhibition Margaret Dodd: New acquisitions at the Art Gallery of South Australia.

Dodd talks about all of these things. She talks of her upbringing in Adelaide, her move to America with her husband (he was a physicist invited to work at Yale), and her time studying art in California. Dodd also reflects on how she became part of the funk ceramics movement in the 1960s, which bought much humour and less convention to ceramics.

From here Dodd tells us her thoughts on being a housewife, the isolation she felt when she moved back to Adelaide after being in the United States, how this influenced the profound feminism of her work, the links between sexism and cars, and the reactions to her film This Woman Is Not A Car.

Dodd’s work is also currently showing in two exhibitions:

GAGPROJECTS at Explore Sydney Contemporary
11—21 November

Clay Dynasty
Powerhouse Museum
11 October—29 January 2023

This series is kindly sponsored by Leonard Joel Auctioneers and Valuers, based in Melbourne and Sydney.
Produced and presented by Tiarney Miekus, engineering by Patrick Telfer, and music by Mino Peric.

Podcast Words by Tiarney Miekus