Today, March 8th, we recognise the incredible work women play in our society and shout out to all women who have experienced gender bias, discrimination and stereotyping.
We also acknowledged that in the 100th year of the Archibald Portrait Prize (perhaps the most prestigious Art Prize in Australia) that in its long history, only 10 female artists have ever taken out the main prize.
When we look at our own stable of artists here at Art to Art, we can see the clear talent and inspiration our female artists bring to the community. Did you know of our 67 represented Australian artists, 54 are women?
Today we are shining a spotlight on a few of those female artists and asking them to help support International Women's Day by crossing their arms to show solidarity and help break the bias.
We've asked them to strike the pose and share their stories by answering this poignant question: What does it mean to you to be an Australian female artist in today’s world?
At Art to Art we believe in an inclusive world, and we will continue to encourage and support all our artists in chasing their artistic futures. We can all play a part of changing this inequality landscape forever.
"This world we live in is constantly changing with extreme inequities, power shifts, ups and downs, and curveballs where we don't expect them. It is an honour and a privilege to be a female artist in todays world. Art provides me a space to explore the terrain that is life, society and this world. I use art as my voice to tell the stories of an equitable world where women are safe and powerful. I believe I am Inspiring Hope."
"The question I ask myself is why is it such a tough slog to successfully make a living as an artist in Australia? Is it because primarily history has rewarded male artists? Is art valued highly enough to the Australian psyche? Or do I look inwards and question my work. Is my work good enough? Do I need to sell myself more? Whatever the reasons, I absolutely love what I do and challenge myself with each piece to produce something better each time. Creativity is part of my soul and as long as I am able to I will continue to work as an Artist in Australia. Perhaps too I may be able to fully enjoy 'the fruits of my labour'."
"It means empowerment, it means expression and it means being your authentic self. It can to some also mean a perceived presence outside of accepted standards, a play with paint, a "hobby" that women do outside of "real" jobs, something to pick up once the kids are grown. This may be true in some constructs and yes I came back to my art later in life however the strength, determination and sheer focus required in getting to this place is one that many female artists can well relate to. The beauty of art in Australia especially within our female sovereignty is as unique, colourful, full and freaking bountiful as any, if not more, than I have seen in other parts of the world. I bow down in great respect to you fellow, beautiful women of the Australian Art scene!"
"It means showing up for yourself and your art making, day after day. Committing yourself to the work as a lived experience. It means being resilient and tenacious in a world that has been predominated by men within a white patriarchal, colonial structure. It's about supporting each other in the process and sitting alongside others with a clear acknowledgment of inclusivity, intersectionality and diversity."
"What it means for me today to be a Woman Artist, is to be focused on enhancement... my intention is to make a space better.... and focus really on how with what is going on around us, the home and all of the items we curate within it add to our peace and let all who dwell within find a calming space. I have not experienced obstacles as a woman artist and am happy to focus on nurturing through my Art... my arms are crossed for those women who have faced inequity through their Art journey simply because they are Women."
"To me, it means supporting the wonderful sisterhood of female artists in collaboration, community, and collective solidarity, not competition. As my T-shirt says. ‘Sisterhood is Powerful’!"
"It’s such a privilege to be an Australian female artist right now. There’s a lot to be grateful for – freedom of choice and expression in particular.
Looking around the world, there are many constraints and restrictions placed on women, regardless of their occupation or passions in life, and expression of those passions or attempts at liberation can be terrifyingly life threatening.
In Australia, there is still a gender bias (including in our national art galleries), but we have an opportunity right now to at least improve this imbalance in so many ways. It’s a privilege to be able to express myself in any way I wish without fear of repercussion. I’m grateful for my artistic freedom."
"I think more than ever, this year there needs to be a focus on International Women’s Day. It is a global holiday celebrated annually on March 8 to commemorate the cultural, political and socioeconomic achievements of women.
I value being a female artist because I can work for myself and I find great fulfilment in creating work that brings about emotions of happiness and excitement to those who own and view my art. I also want to draw attention to issues faced by women and I particularly want to bring attention to issues such as violence and abuse against women."
“I am so grateful to be an artist in this current world. I find it is a lucky time for us as we can speak our true voice and find support in an immense pool of other women artists. Not only that, there seems to be a feeling of empowerment and camaraderie amongst artists of all genres. As women, we keep finding our own voices and being able to express ourselves without reservations or fear. We are proud of what we have to say, and we are fearlessly saying it.”
“As women we are busy in unexpected ways - full arms, full heads, full lives, and FOMO. Life is tricky for women - always has been, and although there are so many things to make life easier in a lot of ways our heads are busier than ever. Art is the place I go to unravel - to ease out the scramble of a busy head and to find some meditation in solving the puzzle of what is a tree, a pleasing circle or the right green. It's a drive that I hope brings pleasure to others for double the joy. Joy in the making, joy in the viewing and a moment of peace for both (I hope).”
“I am so proud to be a female artist in today's world... where I can break the bias, prove to my children they can become whoever they want to be regardless of gender and to bring more beauty into the world.”
“I want to be an artist who celebrates women and brings my female perspective to their depiction in art. I see myself as participating in long line of women reclaiming the female figure and speaking about my own experiences through that work. I am excited to be a part of a groundswell of talented female painters and creatives finding space in Australia’s artistic landscape.”
“For me the deeply personal up hill journey to being able say that I am an artist is not lost on me. My early life was one of pure survival in a world of toxic masculinity and family dysfunction. Something I haven’t really spoken much about.
I got messages from everywhere that if I was going to make it in the world I had know how to be the “good girl/woman”, “do what I was told” and get a “real job”.
So for me the path of being a female artists is one of healing, rebellion, and nurturing myself back to being authentically me.
I have had so many fellow artists be a guiding light for me, and so for me being to an Australian artist in this today’s world is also one of community, connection, encouragement and love for the current generations of female artists and the ones to come.”
“It's an absolute privilege that I don't take for granted to be an Australian female artist. In today's world it's never been easier as a female to be an artist and I think that's partly because of the hard work of women in the past fighting the good fight to have a voice to work.
There has always been an expectation for women to be running a household and raising children, but we are more than just mum and wife.
I had to find my own voice to be an artist because quote on quote "it's not a safe job you have to take risks and put yourself out there".
But in taking the risk and putting my work out there it has been an absolute joy to find people resonating with my work.
Thank you I'm honoured to be an Australian female artist.”