The motivation behind Women in Collections is to show work by women artists, all collected by Nottingham City Museums and Galleries for different reasons. Many are overlooked, insufficiently appreciated and forgotten by art history. This is a response to a ‘Women in Collections’ study day, ran by the Contemporary Art Society at Leeds Art Gallery last October, the programme highlighted the chronic failure of modern and contemporary art galleries to create equality and diversity. This exhibition has taken its title from the study day, which prompted us to look at and beyond recent acquisitions of works by women artists within our own male dominated collections.
Women in Collections presents work by women artists who respond to aspects of or objects found in their physical or cultural environments. Artist Anne Morrell uses stitch to capture closely observed moments in nature, where Magdalene Odundo raises the concept of shifting cultural identities through her hand built ceramics.
A number of these artists have contributed greatly to the creative landscape of Nottingham, such as Margaret Benyon MBE, a pioneer of British holography who first began experimenting with holography as an artistic medium at the University of Nottingham in the late 1960s. A feminist strand runs through her practice, partly due to her discovery in the product engineering laboratories of the University that the building had no women’s lavatories at that time. Artist and educator Evelyn Gibbs was evacuated to Nottingham during WWII, here she founded the Midland Group of Artists in 1943 and worked as a prolific War Artist.