19th October 2020 - 17th January 2021 

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Bex Massey’s solo exhibition brings together a selection of recent paintings and site-specific work made especially for VOLT. We Didn’t Start the Fire questions the disparity between the sexes from its inception in Ancient Greek myth right through to modern day celebrity culture.

The title of the exhibition references not only the classic rock hit by Billy Joel, but also the story of Prometheus, who attempted to steal fire from the Gods. As a punishment for this hubristic act, Zeus created Pandora and her eponymous Box. Zeus knew that no mortal could resist the temptation of opening the box which contained within it a plethora of evils. Eventually Pandora opened the box and all the evils and hardships of the world were released. Despite the roles of men as instigators in the story, the blame was firmly cast on Pandora and womankind forevermore.

Massey uses this ancient tale of inequality being set in motion as a starting point for her exhibition. Through an eclectic array of subsequent myths, fables and histories, we are asked to question the implications of these stories and how they highlight the creation of a gender-biased culture and our complicity with this.

Working from a recent predication by The World Economic Forum that foresees a further 257 years until gender parity is achieved, Massey uses depictions of unlikely inventors, mythical tropes, 80s and 90s nostalgia and the cult of celebrity to document the prevalence of women as the ‘second sex’.

Her exhibition at VOLT takes viewers back to the future on a DeLorean-fuelled journey with a view to answering why none of us will see equality in our lifetimes. 


Bex Massey was born and raised in Newcastle. She studied at The Cass School of Art and Chelsea College of Art in London, where she is now based.


Her work combines painting, sculpture and installation and examines the role of image making in art and contemporary society. Through a layering of nostalgic pop motifs and sociopolitical critique, Massey explores the undercurrent of anxiety drifting just below the surface of daily life.