The Society has a long and proud history as the oldest surviving women’s art group in Australia.
Founded in 1902, the Melbourne Society of Women Painters and Sculptors (MSWPS) is Australia’s oldest specialist organisation for women artists. Many women have been members of the Society. Radicals and conservatives, painters, sculptors, printmakers, china painters, craft workers, commercial artists and designers, professionals and amateurs, women artists of varying skills and philosophies worked together as members of the MSWPS. “More Than Just Gumtrees”, a publication by Dr. Juliette Peers, tells the story of the MSWPS and its members’ achievements. Issues of the workplace, family and art commitments, economic survival of artists, migrant artists and prejudice against women are also explored.
Much of the information in “More Than Just Gumtrees” has not been available in previous publications, hitherto unpublished sources include oral history interviews, minute books, reviews, letters, early photographs.
An intimate picture of women’s art in Melbourne from the plein air and craft movements at the turn of the century, through tonalism, modernism, the second world war and 1950s domesticity to realist, traditional and contemporary artists of the present day.
Biographies of over 300 artists, with individual exhibition lists, representation in public collections and further sources form a valuable reference for both general and specialist readers and researchers, dealers and libraries.
Members included Clara Southern, Violet Teague, A.M.E.Bale, Ethel Carrick Fox, Hilda Rix Nicholas, Dora Serle, Janet Cumbrae-Stewart, Dora Wilson, Ola Cohn, Sybil Craig, Peggie Crombie, Helen Ogilvie, Amalie Colquhoun, Isabel Hunter Tweddle, Ada May Plante, Lina Bryans, Anne Montgomery, Majorie Woolcock, Maidie McGowan and many many more.