The Women’s Gallery Book Launch
It is an interesting statistic that in 1918, 13 of the 20 founding members of the Twenty Melbourne Painters Society, one of Australia’s oldest and most prestigious arts organisations, were women. Yet by the 1980’s, as outlined by Janine Burke in her Foreword to the book, arts feminism seemed to disappear. A group of arts feminists banded together and the Women’s Gallery was born in 1988, against this background of a lack of representation of women in commercial galleries. The first exhibition of work was by Jan Ross in June, 1988 and I quote from the book, “The Women’s Gallery was perfect, with expanses of white walls and gleaming polished floorboards, a beautiful space to show artworks.” This book documents an important part of Australian history, not only Art history but Feminism history.
The MC for the event was Duré Dara, OAM, Board Member of the Victorian Women’s Trust who were one of the sponsors. Equality for women and indigenous people are issues high on Duré’s agenda, which became evident during her introduction to the book. She spoke eloquently and passionately and reinforced the need for continued support of feminism in a world that continues to show a lack of respect.
Judith Brooks, editor of the book, resident of Barwon Heads and one of the founders of The Women’s Gallery, gave us her unique insight into the events that led to the founding and operation of the Gallery. A disused clothing factory in Fitzroy was found, and to quote “It took a year of hard work, fund-raising, improvisation and sheer bravado to get to opening afternoon.” The Women’s Gallery Book is built on the archives and the memories of a generation of determined visionary feminists and Judith gave quotes from the book to illustrate her presentation. Many of the 100+ people who attended the event had Judith personalise their copy.
The Brunswick Women’s Choir, under the direction of Cathy Nixon, sang a number of pieces beautifully. They are a collective of women who are passionate about social justice and believe music has the power to unite, inspire and foster change.
The Barwon Heads Arts Council is proud to have had the opportunity to auspice the project and Judith acknowledged that support and the attendance at the launch of representatives from the BHAC.
Published by Mouse In House Publishing ISBN 978-0-646-80704-1