SWA 2017: Review

written by Sophie | Exhibitions

Society of Women Artists

The Society of Women Artists was founded as far back as 1857 and has famous names connected to it, such as Dame Laura Knight as one of its presidents in 1932.  It is obvious how important it was back in the 19th century as a place where female artists could find a place to work and have their work acknowledged. 160 Years later the role of women in the art world has changed dramatically, and yet there is still a place for a society for women artists.

Not only is the vast majority of exhibiting artists in galleries and museums still dominated by men but the ‘male gaze’ still finds its way into art made by men as well as women artists. It is vital for women artists to be acknowledged as relevant as male artists.

But there is also a need to rectify the appreciation of female topics seen in paintings as less relevant and ‘mumsy’. Paintings of children do not have to be provincial and looking ‘home-made’; ‘feminine’ topics such as flowers, food and lace can be as relevant and current as anything. Some paintings manage to avoid the male gaze and depict women not jus as pretty objects but as interesting human beings and those works need to be celebrated.

Despite the huge progress the women movement has made in the arts world since the 19th century, there is still plenty to debate and discuss. The Society of Women Artists, in my view, should play a leading role in this.

Annual Exhibition

The annual exhibition of the SWA shows work by their members as well as works by non members which are selected by open submission. About half the work on the walls (and plinths) is by non members, which opens the exhibiton up to a large number of upcoming artists as well as established artists being able to exhibit their work. It is a great occasion for the so many female artists, working away at home, not realising how fantastic their work is, and show it to the wider world. I am sure many artists found their way to sales and fame this way.

The 2017 exhibtion is large; the catalogue lists 406 works ranging from sculpture to mixed media, to oils, watercolour, pastel and more. The huge range of media selected is one of the great characteristics of this show. Dog sculptures live next to oil portraits and pencil sketches. The quality of the works is very high and going up each year. There seems to be a clearly discernable trend in upping the quality of the works although there are always a few that have missed the mark.

The Guest

My painting The Guest was selected for the show and was hung in the Threadneedle Space: a recent renovation at the Mall Galleries and now looking super sleek and contemporary. It is a beautiful room full of light and space. I was really pleased with the way they hung my painting and hope many people will enjoy seeing it.

Below are some of the highlights of the show and more information.
Most works in the exhibition are for sale.

You do need to hurry as the exhibition is only on for a week and closes on Sunday 9 July at 3pm.

Society of Women Artists
Annual Exhibition 2017
Mall Galleries
The Mall, London WC1
4 – 9 July 2017

Tuesday 4 July, 4pm to 5pm
Wednesday 5 , Closed all day
Thursday 6 to Saturday 8 July, 10am to 5pm
Sunday 9 July, 10am to 3pm

Admission £4,  50% off for National Art Pass holders, Free to Friends of Mall Galleries and under 18s

The Mall Galleries, London, private view of the annual exhibition of the Society of Women Artists

HRH Princess Michael of Kent is opening the exhibition

The Guest, hanging beautifully in the Threadneedle space at the annual exhibition of the Society of Women Artists in 2017. Mall Galleries, London.

A great hang with a large watercolour by Catherine Beale, a still life by honorary member Daphne Todd OBE and a small watercolour by Lucy Marks

Gorgeous still life by fellow Dutch painter Tanja Moderschein

lovely piece by Donna Leighton

Great portrait by Ruth Fitton (detail)

Sculpture by Lucianna Lasalle

A fantastic portrait by honorary member June Mendoza OBE

Works by Stephie Butler

Painting by Qing Chen

The Threadneedle Space at the Mall Galleries

My painting in the Threadneedle Space

Works by associate member Rosalind Robinson

Published: July 6, 2017

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  1. A great post, Sophie! I’m sadly unable to see the exhibition in person, so it is really lovely to be able to read about it in such depth. Thank you so much for including my portrait Waiting for Persephone in your list of highlights, and alongside the work of my hero June Mendoza too – wow! I’m very impressed by your painting The Guest – striking and yet so subtle – and will see if I can find you on Instagram! Thanks again and all best wishes, Ruth

    1. Hi Ruth, so glad you commented so I can follow your work from now on. Maybe one day we’ll meet at an exhibition somewhere. Your portrait is just wonderful. 🙂

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