Know Their Names! National Gallery announces three new exhibitions by women artists | HerCanberra

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Know Their Names! National Gallery announces three new exhibitions by women artists

Anne Wallace, She is, 2001, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, purchased 2002.

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The National Gallery of Australia has announced three new women-led exhibitions set to open in mid-2021: part two of Know My Name: Australian Women Artists 1900 to Now, Project 1: Sarah Lucas and touring exhibition Spowers & Syme.

The National Gallery of Australia continues to highlight the extraordinary contribution of women artists with the announcement of three new women-led exhibitions opening in mid-2021; part two of Know My Name: Australian Women Artists 1900 to Now, Project 1: Sarah Lucas and touring exhibition Spowers & Syme.

Know My Name, the National Gallery’s ongoing gender equity initiative, is a celebration and a commitment to women artists— intending to recast a male-dominated art history and reimagine a more inclusive future at the Gallery and beyond.

Natasha Bullock, Assistant Director of Artistic Programs at the National Gallery, said that when Know My Name launched in 2019, it marked a moment of major transformation for the Gallery.

‘Know My Name is only the start of an extraordinary era of collecting, exhibiting and presenting the work of women artists to the wider Australian public.’

‘Elevating women artists now and into the future is being embedded into the culture of the Gallery. While art and artists are fundamental to this initiative, our aim is to ultimately lead the conversation to transform the cultural landscape of Australia,’ said Bullock.

Know My Name: Australian Women Artists 1900 to Now

Robyn Stacey, Untitled (Girl in blond wig on floor), 1985, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, Gift of the artist 2018. Donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program.

With part two of the exhibition, Know My Name: Australian Women Artists 1900 to Now will continue its evolution as one of the most comprehensive exhibitions of art by women ever assembled in Australia.

Mainly drawn from the national collection, Know My Name: Australian Women Artists 1900 to Now continues to propose alternative histories, challenge stereotypes, and celebrate the achievements of more than 250 artists.

Co-curators of the exhibition Dr Deborah Hart and Elspeth Pitt emphasise that this is still an exhibition—and a broader conversation—that we need to have in Australia.

‘Australian women artists are truly remarkable. We hope by presenting Know My Name in two parts with different artists and themes, we reiterate to the public the significance of these artists – and the importance of recognition into the future,’ said Hart and Pitt.

Highlights of part two of Know My Name include works by artists Joy Hester, Grace Cossington Smith, and Margaret Preston; renowned First Nations artists Doreen Reid Nakamarra, Thanakupi (Gloria Fletcher AO), and Karla Dickens; large-scale installation works by contemporary artists Simryn Gill and Justene Williams; and newly acquired works by Diena Georgetti and fashion icons, Romance Was Born.

This article’s feature image shows Anne Wallace’s She is (2001, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, purchased 2002).

Know My Name: Australian Women Artists 1900 to Now: will run from 12 June 2021 to 26 January 2022.

Project 1: Sarah Lucas

Sarah Lucas, Eating a Banana, 1990, image courtesy Sadie Coles HQ, London © the artist

Project 1: Sarah Lucas brings together recent work by one of England’s most influential and unapologetic artists.

Over the past 30 years, Sarah Lucas has built an illustrious career challenging the social constructs of gender through sculpture, photography and performance—and curator Peter Johnson wants Australians to know her name.

‘I think Australians are going to love Lucas—who uses crude and humorous imagery to explore the representation of gender and confront the realities of bodily existence,’ said Johnson.

Project 1: Sarah Lucas features two recent sculpture series, including new works from the Bunny series she has been making since 1997. A new series of bronze sculptures depicts similar figures that incorporate both masculine and feminine elements, challenging gender stereotypes and humorously playing with conventions of representation.

Lucas’s sculptural work is exhibited alongside rarely seen images of the artist’s first self-portrait, Eating a Banana, which will be reproduced to more than seven metres high—covering the exhibition walls from floor to ceiling.

Project 1: Sarah Lucas will open 7 August 2021 and close 13 February 2022.

Spowers & Syme

Ethel Spowers, Balloons, c. 1920, drawing in black ink, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra. Gift of Chris Montgomery 1993

Celebrating the artistic friendship of Melbourne artists Ethel Spowers and Eveline Syme, the Know My Name touring exhibition – Spowers & Syme – will present the changing face of interwar Australia through the perspective of two pioneering women artists.

The National Gallery’s Curator of Australian Prints and Drawings, Dr Sarina Noordhuis-Fairfax hopes that regional audiences will add the names Spowers and Syme to their knowledge of ground-breaking women artists from the era including Margaret Preston, Thea Proctor, Dorrit Black and Grace Cossington Smith.

‘Spowers and Syme are often overlooked in Australian art history, yet during the 1930s they were recognised by peers as being among the most progressive artists working in Melbourne.’

‘Exhibiting in Australia and England, they championed key ideas from European modernism such as contemporary art reflecting the pace and vitality of life,’ said Noordhuis-Fairfax.

Much-loved for their dynamic approach to lino and woodcut prints, Spowers & Syme offers rare insights into the creative alliance between the daughters of rival media families from Melbourne-based newspapers The Argus and The Age. After studying art together in Paris and London, Spowers and Syme returned to the conservative art world of Australia where they became enthusiastic exponents of modern art during the 1930s and 40s.

Spowers & Syme will show at the Canberra Museum and Gallery from 14 August – 24 October 2021.

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