An eclectic diverse group of artistic voices, who came together to offer a visual response to the recorded statistics of womens representation in the fine art world. The base ethos of this collective is celebrating the unity of equity with the commonality of this group based in the organic nature it arose from. While the range of styles, techniques and artistic backgrounds differ the one bond which makes it cohesive is the creative desire.
Historically there has been a vast gender imbalance with museums, galleries, permanent collections, and individual exhibitions being statistically more likely to show art by men rather than art by women. Over the last few years galleries have begun to acknowledge and redress the gender balance with both the Tate Modern and Saatchi Gallery holding womens art exhibitions but women are still sadly under represented.
John Berger (English art critic, novelist, painter and poet) summarised much of art history as crude objectification: ‘Men look at women. Women watch themselves being looked at.’
In the 1970s women attempted to move their art beyond a simple roll reversal by painting men as objects but turned the lens, or canvas, on themselves. However their work was generally viewed as subversive rather than creating greater respect for women artists and left a generation of art made by women that became depressingly solipsistic; viewed as self absorbed. Nearly 50 years after feminist artists struggled to be seen women are still struggling to move beyond creating art at their kitchen tables.
Each woman within W*A*S*H creates art for her own reason and with her own world view in mind but as women we feel a natural inclination to draw together, to gather, awhi, support and encourage. As artists we can live in solitary creating; yet as women we like to gather, the reason may as simple as companionship or inclusion but mostly it’s because we love art. As the country who first gave the vote to women and the community who held the first all female art exhibitions we continue that legacy with pride.
Shelley Middleborough Simpson