Since the mid-1970s, historians, curators and activists have been researching and discussing the place of women artists in narratives of Australian settler culture. Beginning in the late 2000s, a global movement has consciously returned women's cultural production to the centre of public institutional displays and practices. Many artworks, life-stories and narratives have been re-evaluated and endorsed. Yet major journals and newspapers have simultaneously published essays that were critical of any attempts to manipulate public memory across this decade.
A recent international movement of younger artists and cultural professionals to critically examine museum and gallery practice in light of cultural diversity and histories of colonialism offers both challenges and opportunities. Public demands for equal representation have also facilitated a more secure public presence of women artists working from the 16th to the 18th century. This talk will also feature case studies to examine the professionalism and ambition that drove women artists and their place in public memory in 1850s-1930s Australia.
Juliette Peers is a historian, curator, teacher and writer, now based in Ballarat. Her interests span classical art history, popular culture, feminism and politics. She taught design history at RMIT for over twenty-five years. She favours unstable, outlying, queer and feminist narratives and engages with images and mythologies of the feminine. Her research traverses’ film, literature, dance, celebrities, fandoms, royalty, statues, public monuments and dolls.
Juliette has been involved with the Women’s Art Register for over three decades, worked on major projects including curating ‘Completing the Picture: Women Artists and the Heidelberg Era’, with major public galleries in Australia and in Europe and North America. Feminist art advocacy is central to her practice and includes writing, research and the growth and maintenance of archives and foundations relating to women’s art such as the Women's Art Register and the Sheila Foundation for Women in the arts.
Image: Alice Bale (A.M.E. Bale), ‘Self Portrait’ c 1905, Cruthers Collection of Women's Art at the Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery, courtesy of the Sheila Foundation for Women in the Arts