International Women’s Month

Back at art school in 2012 when I first started researching feminism. I sent out a questionnaire to delve deeper into people’s current views. I had all sorts of responses, and of course some were positive, but more than I would’ve liked, called feminists ‘annoying and unnecessary’ and even that they had ‘existing conflict in their minds...from some mistreatment in the past.’

These findings led me to conclude in a paper I wrote called ‘The F word,’ that most people still associated the movement with “those hippy, man-hating, bra burning women back in the 70’s.” And although people believed in equal rights the word Feminist was tarnished and people did not want to be associated with it.

Thankfully, the world has witnessed a significant attitude shift since then. Feminism is now socially acceptable and accessible. A real signifier on how far things have come is looking at the hashtags such as #feminism and #womenempowerment on Instagram that have over 12 million posts. And now with more women in the boardroom, greater equality in legislative rights, and increased women's visibility of impressive role models in every aspect of life, one could think that true equality is here.

The unfortunate fact is though, that women are still not paid equally to that of their male counterparts, still not present in equal numbers in business or politics, and there is still a disparity within the artworld:

  • There is a 47.6% discount for women's art compared to men's art at auction.
  • Only 13.7% of living artists represented by galleries in Europe and North America are women.
  • Only 29% of winners of the Turner Prize have been women.
  • 78% of London galleries represent more men than women.
  • In a 2018 survey of 820,000 exhibitions only one third were by women.
  • The most expensive artworks ever sold have a $400 million difference between the genders. 

Despite these figures, there is some positive progression in fixing this imbalance. The Venice Biennale in 2022 had for the first time in its 127-year history more women artists exhibiting than men - 213 artists were women and only 21 were men. And in Art Review’s, 2018 Power 100 of the ‘Most influential people in the Contemporary Art world’ included 40% of women, an increase from 32% in 2016.

And here at VAN, we are pleased to say that 70% of our members are women and 80% of our top sellers, by total sales value, in 2022 were women.

To celebrate this and International Women’s Day, the Visual Art Network will be having a month of celebrating our female artists and makers. In the gallery we have all women featured on the artist boards, our ‘Evolution’ Exhibition has a female majority AND we will be running a curated social media campaign showcasing the female creatives in the space.

Kat Preston

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