Women's Work: Being Seen Part 1
On April 1st, 2017 myself and three other female graduates from Glasgow School of Art embarked on our exhibition ‘Women’s Work: Being Seen’ (Part 1) in the Lillie Art Gallery, Milngavie.
It was an exciting project which aimed to respond to the position of women in the contemporary arts and in culture generally. Having been given the opportunity to exhibit in the under-utilised foyer space of the gallery, we set to work transforming it into an immersive, colourful and thought provoking environment.
Catriona Thomson, Rowan Flint, Hannah Lyth and I work primarily in painting and printmaking and used this opportunity to showcase our work as a group of emerging female artists with a collective concern of identity. Our work is often reflective of our own experiences both as women and as contemporary artists. The title ‘Being Seen’ is provocative in that it instantly raises questions about how women are viewed in society. Working directly with the female body, Hannah and I question gender target advertising and ‘ideals’ surrounding femininity, and how oppressive portrayals can be overcome. Catriona’s work is influenced by her multi-cultural upbringing, and is upfront in its encapsulation of an ever-shifting subject matter, sometimes in the form of portraiture or abstract colour and form. Rowan utilises her installation printmaking to transform spaces in to immersive collections of imagery, linking personal, political and environmental factors together.
What all of our work holds in common is a reaction to the external environment in the form of societal constructs and ideas surrounding identity, and how this is then processed internally and projected back into the world in the form of art. We are also linked by the technicality of creating; with a shared interest in printmaking techniques we recognise the importance of the body as both maker and as subject matter. With a nod to many women throughout history whose magnificent skills have not been recognised as ‘high art’ we say: ‘this is women’s work, this is art, and it is being seen, whether you like it or not.’ For further reading I recommend the wonderful ‘Why Have There Been No Great Female Artists’ by Linda Nochlin.
We chose to utilise the exhibition and our stall and the Milngavie Makers Market to raise awareness of the charity ‘Target Ovarian Cancer, donating 20% of all proceeds to them. Around 7,300 women are diagnosed with the disease each year in the UK and the survival rates are amongst the worst in Europe. Target Ovarian Cancer fund life saving research and provide much needed support to women with ovarian cancer, across the UK.
Women's Work: Being Seen Part 2
The second part of this exhibition was also held in the Lillie Art Gallery October - November 2017, but in one of the main exhibition spaces. Giving us time for reflection and to think about the curatorial value of the installation was deeply valuable in its new setup, with more developed pieces. Overcoming the challenges of placement and environment was also very interesting - forcing new audiences to evaluate the work, no matter how it it received was part of the ethos of this project. We even got a mention on BBC Radio Scotland which was a nice surprise!