One Hundred Years of Sisterhood

Estelle Woolley Cut - cats claws and razor: Wunderland at tactileBosch March 2011
If you’re reading this on 08 March then a very happy International Women’s Day to you. This year is special because it’s the centenary and it must be said that there have been some major advances on the equality front (though let’s not mention the car insurance issue!), but there’s still a long way to go for women artists.

If you need convincing then take a trip to your local art gallery or museum and count up the number of works by women artists in their permanent collections, then tell me it ain’t so. If you want to stray into the minefield of whether it’s a good idea to show work based on gender then do don your flak jacket and read this and the comments that follow.

But, in Wales, for the next few weeks, you can access the work that often slips under the radar, much of it organised in collaboration with the Women’s Arts Association and, if you follow the link you can access the full listings of events and exhibitions that they’ve had a hand in.

I was delighted to be asked to help select the works for Wunderland at tactileBosch, and then a bit daunted as I wondered if we’d have enough work to fill the huge space and with the quality of work we wanted. Just goes to show how wrong you can be.

I do have reservations about exhibitions based solely on gender, especially when there is not curatorial rationale to link works together, but this one works, and I take no credit for it as it was Tiff Oben and the tB team who actually pulled it together and found sympathetic settings for very disparate and sometimes challenging works. You can read Tiff’s really eloquent description of the Wunderland here.

Similarly at the Artemisia exhibition at St. David’s Hall (why isn’t it on their web site, why?), I realised that sometimes it’s worth creating a critical mass of talent to underline the importance of the contribution that women artists make to cultural life in Wales.

And if you can’t celebrate this contribution during IWD’s centennial year then when can you?

If you’re involved in celebrating with an event or exhibition please post your events below. I’ll be trying to get to as much as I can over the next few weeks and do a review of personal highlights after I’ve recovered.

In the meantime I’ll be opening Female Frame III at the Wales Millennium Centre on Thursday 10 March between 6-8pm and hope to meet some of you there.

We’ve come a long way in the past hundred years, but there’s still a way to go. As a friend said to me today, “I’ve got bruises on my head from bumping it against the glass ceiling.”


6 thoughts on “One Hundred Years of Sisterhood

  1. Griselda Pollock in 2007
    Today is 2 March 2007. It was over thirty years ago that I first published as a feminist. The article was my research on the number of works by artists who are women in the National Gallery, London. Titled ‘Underground Women’, the article identified seven works by women, with a further two attributed but since rejected. But at least they knew of names of women artists to whom such works could be attributed. The problem was that not one of the paintings was hanging in the main galleries; they could only be seen in the admittedly open basement stacks.

    Another decade went by and the Guerrilla Girls emerged to mount a renewed assault on the sexism and racism of museums and galleries in the United States – which had nor sufficiently responded to the first round of demonstrations and campaigns ca 1970. The group is still active. In 1989 they produced a famous poster asking ‘Do women have to be naked to get into the Met?’. Although 85% of works in the modern collection were of female nudes, only 5% of the works were by women artists. In 2006, the Guerrilla Girls revisited this poster. The statistics had changed. Now, only 3% of works in the Modern Collection are by women.

  2. In between Noam Chomsky and the rugby and all the other fabulous events to mark 100 years of sisterhood, please try and make some room for Make Room!!

    Milkwood Gallery March 12th – April 24th 2011

    A Showcase of Contemporary Women’s Art

    featuring work by

    Claire Kennedy – Jemma Bailey – Edel Cronin

    Catherine Davies – Rhiannon Lowe – Fra Beecher

    Emily Stevens – Mari Gordon – Amelia Johnstone

    Sara Rees – Rabab Ghazoul – Tiff Oben & Helene Roberts

    Marega Palser – Ffaf Collective – Helen Clifford

    Exhibition Preview March 12th 6.30 – 9.30pm

    Featuring new performance piece Guidelines by Ffaf art collective

    8pm – 9pm

    Read more….

  3. Greer’s article is quick to dismiss Elles@centrepompidou. By all means it was flawed but I remember the excitement I felt when looking round the exhibition – it’s what actually inspired me to start my blog. It’s also interesting to see this issue being debated locally; I’m looking forward to Thursday!

    Many thanks for such an informative blog, LW

  4. just remembered the wonder of going to the all women surrealists exhibition in manchester just over a year ago – a friend and I travelled by public transpot both determined to see it. there were some dismissive comment around and about but we loved it. Actually something very refreshing to see work and know it is all by women! To tell the truth i wouldn’t go to an all men artists surrealist exhibition….
    due to train strike i might make th emilkwood gallery exhibition and the one at TactileBosch

  5. here’s the link to Make Room page on our website, an enticing mix of applied and conceptually led practice including a performance from the wonderful Ffaf art collective ‘Guidelines’ which will strike a chord with anyone who has memories (hideous or otherwise!) of the Brownies/Cubs From Saturday 12th March 6pm

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