Modern Australian Women: Works from a Private Collection

A Note from Dinny Birrell:

Many members may already have seen the wonderful exhibition of women artists at the NGV Australia in Federation Square. However if not, then it is an amazing collection of the work of women artists, many of whom were MSWPS members.

It is Modern Australian Women – works from a private collection. The exhibition explores the work of Australian women artists from 1880 – 1960. The National Gallery of Victoria has taken the very unusual step of exhibiting works from a genuinely private collection. They have not done this before. One can discount the Joseph Brown collection as he was a dealer and that collection was the work remaining in his estate. The Modern Australian Women collection has been collected over many years by one woman who has a general interest in and love for art and the decorative arts, which evolved in recent times into a focus on the works of the women artists of Australia.

It is densely hung in a ‘salon hang’ in one room and the works include. a marvellous collection of prints, linocuts and woodcuts from the best of that era. Eveline Syme, Ethel Spowers, Thea Proctor, Helen Ogilvie and many others. The portrait / figure wall includes works by Dora Wilson, Janet Agnes Cumbrae Stewart, Florence Rodway, Stella Bowen, Constance Stokes and many more. The landscape wall and the still life walls also display many of the best known women artists of that era, including what Barbara Macmanus described as the “best Alice Bale still life” she had ever seen. The exhibits on display include print making mediums, ceramics, oils, watercolours and pastels.

This is an exhibition not to be missed. A once in a lifetime experience of a private collection on display at this national institution. The exhibition is free entry and on display until at least the end of February and maybe even longer.

Perhaps the MSWPS members would be interested in  seeing this extraordinary exhibition.

Extract from:

19 Oct 18

Modern Australian Women: Works from a Private Collection

The turn of the twentieth century was a crucial time for women artists in Australia. By 1900, women were a visible and active presence at the country’s major art schools, including at the National Gallery School in Melbourne, where female students outnumbered their male peers. Works by women artists were hung at major exhibitions and women slowly began to enter the managing ranks of art societies.Travel to Europe to pursue further study and professional opportunities was commonplace. While prejudice and bias against female artists remained widespread, more women gained recognition and respect as ‘professional artists’ in this period than ever before.

Modern Australian Women: Works from a Private Collection explores the life and work of over fifty artists who worked in Australia and abroad between 1880 and 1965. Almost all of these women were professional working artists, often supporting themselves and their families via the sale of art through public exhibitions, commercial galleries and private commissions. The works on display provide insight into women’s professional and economic strategies, as well as their role in introducing Post-impressionism and modernism into Australian art. These works were acquired over a period of forty years and reflect the singular vision and connoisseurship of their passionate collector.