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No Second Thoughts: Reflections on the ARTEMIS Women's Art Forum examines the production of memory and history in Western Australian feminist art practice and beyond, responding to an archive of documents produced by the organisation housed at the State Library of Western Australia.
1 September - 8 December 2018
Active in Perth from 1985 and with roughly 300 members at its peak, The ARTEMIS Women’s Art Forum Inc. aimed to raise the status of women in the arts and to foster interest in women’s art practice and ideas. The group produced symposia, exhibitions and a newsletter, provided childcare facilities for its members at meetings, and also ran the ARTEMIS gallery, located in the Artshouse building in the Perth Cultural Centre. After the dissolution of the group in 1990, the Artemis archive - featuring correspondence, meeting minutes, exhibition ephemera, artist files and more - was donated to State Library of Western Australia.
No Second Thoughts takes its name from the ARTEMIS members’ exhibition held at the Film and Television Institute in Fremantle in 1988. Former ARTEMIS committee members Penny Bovell and Jo Darbyshire and early career artists Teelah George and Taylor Reudavey have been commissioned to produce new works inspired by State Library records, examining the production of memory, history and intergenerational exchange in Western Australian feminist art practice and beyond. Jo Darbyshire's recent abstract paintings are juxtaposed with figurative works made during the artist's focus on lesbian experience and history, presenting an embodied consideration of the passage of time and the evolution of artistic practice. Penny Bovell has produced paintings and small sculptures that return to her 1980s explorations of conflict, balance and boundaries, viewed through the lens of organisational and managerial structures and processes, whilst also incorporating her more recent visual vocabulary of cloud forms and weather. Teelah George mimics the gallery architecture with a large-scale embroidery; stitching and 'piece work' on a mammoth scale suggests hidden and gendered labour and conflicting hierarchies of value. Taylor Reudavey is marrying her art practice. Documentation of a private ceremony and its artefacts reflect on the changing - or unchanging - status of marriage in the lives of women in 2018, when both the Same Sex Marriage postal survey and the spectacle of a recent Royal Wedding have presented marriage as a progressive cause. Interested in legal rights and working conditions for artists whose 'commitment to practice' is often framed as a 'labour of love', Reudavey casts an irreverent and critical eye over the recent history of women's contractual obligations.
These works are exhibited alongside archival material from the State Library and from private collections documenting the activity of ARTEMIS and its members during a tumultuous period for the arts and the city of Perth. Photographs, documents, ephemera, original artworks made for newsletters and posters, visual diaries and the occasional pair of Angry Underwear present a rich picture of feminist practice in the Western Australian 1980s. No Second Thoughts considers who, what and how we remember, celebrating the role of the archive in keeping our histories alive
No Second Thoughts: Reflections on the ARTEMIS Women’s Art Forum is presented by the Cruthers Collection of Women’s Art and curated by Gemma Weston. Exhibitions from the Cruthers Collection of Women’s Art are supported by SHEILA A Foundation for Women in Visual Art.
Image: Teelah George, Wall Piece (detail), 2017-2018, thread on linen with bronze. Photograph by Bo Wong, (c) Courtesy the artist.
Penny Bovell's abstract paintings, print work and public art explore the transient nature of sky, air and space. More recently, the artist has expanded this exploration to a focus on deep space and cosmology in search of expression for her own understanding of the universe and place in the world. In 1999, Bovell received a Master’s degree in Fine Art from the University of Western Australia, Perth, following her completion of a Postgraduate Diploma in Visual Arts from Curtin University, Perth, in 1993. Bovell exhibits regularly, and has also lectured in studio practice and art history at the University of Western Australia and Curtin University. Bovell’s artwork is held by major public collections inclding the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra; Parliament House, Canberra; the Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth; Wesfarmers; in addition to numerous private and corporate collections. Penny is represented by WA Art Collective.
Jo Darbyshire is an established Western Australian visual artist. She completed a Post-Graduate Diploma of Art at Canberra School of Art, ACT, in 1991 and a Master of Creative Arts in Cultural Heritage, Curtin University of Technology, Perth, WA in 2004. She exhibits regularly in solo and group exhibitions, most recently presenting the solo exhibition The Glorious Decline at WA Art Collective in 2018 and Ships that Pass with Penny Coss at PS Art Space Fremantle. Darbyshire also works in public art, with commissions including the inaugural High Tide Festival, Fremantle in 2017 and a digiglass mural installed at the Rehabilitation Building, Fiona Stanley Hospital WA, 2010-2013. Her abstract paintings reference the social and environmental history of places, but also aim to suggest their sensory and poetic nature. Her artwork is held in all major public institutions in WA, private collections nationally and internationally. Jo Darbyshire is represented by WA Art Collective.
Teelah George exhibits regularly around Australia and internationally, recently presenting work in the prestigious national survey exhibitions Primavera, Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA), NSW and the inaugural Ramsay Art Prize exhibition, AGSA, SA. She was also selected as a finalist in the 2016 John Stringer Prize, presented at Ace Equity Buildings, WA. Recent solo exhibitions include Lovers’ Ponytails, Orexart, Auckland, NZ, 2017; Yellowing, Feltspace, SA, 2016; and Face Vase and Rag Painting, Bus Projects, Melbourne, VIC, 2015. George often works with archives of material to create paintings, drawings and sculptures that embody the characters and places of history whilst also honouring the beauty of change, decay and omission. She completed a Bachelor of Arts (Arts) from Curtin University, receiving first class honours in 2007. Teelah George is represented by Gallery 9, Sydney.
Taylor Reudavey is an early career artist, writer and pHD candidate at Curtin University. A recent solo exhibition at Moana Project Space, I Know How Hard It Can Get, 2017, explored the experience of the contemporary job-seeker through the forms of mockumentary, sculpture and text. Reudavey has also presented a number of one-off performances, including A Reply to Heaven's Gate (The Hive Art Space, 2017) and Awkwardness & Conviviality (Free Range Gallery, 2016) and the stand-up routine, Taylor Tells it Like it Is at Paper Mountain Gallery as part of the 2018 Fringe Festival. She has produced catalogue essays for numerous local exhibitions and has recently been accepted as a contributor to the Writer’s Program at Seventh Gallery, Victoria.
Remembering ARTEMIS brings together a series of texts discussing the ARTEMIS Women’s Art Forum, an organisation devoted to raising the status of women in the arts in Perth, Western Australia, in the late 1980s.
ARTEMIS began as a series of informal meetings between women working in the arts and eventually grew into an organisation with close to 300 members before losing its funding in 1990. The rise and fall of ARTEMIS unfolded amid a ‘golden age’ of creativity in Western Australia that fostered experimentation and collaborations between disciplines and a boom of activism and political awareness, particularly among women, who sought new support structures, language and visibility for their work.
This collection aims to examine an under-recognised history of Western Australian feminist art practice - occurring against an often-tumultuous political landscape of both reform and excess - against the broader context of Australian feminism and contemporary art. Often conversational and contemplative, Remembering ARTEMIS reflects not just on the organisation but on the ways in which history itself is – or isn’t - made.
Edited and introduced by Gemma Weston, curator of the Cruthers Collection of Women’s Art, the book features contributions from Penny Bovell, Michele Elliot, Anne Jeppe, Pam Kleemann, Linda Rawlings, Taylor Reudavey, Zoe Sofia and Terri-ann White.
Remembering ARTEMIS was produced to accompany the exhibition, No Second Thoughts: Reflections on the ARTEMIS Women’s Art Forum, at the Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery at the University of Western Australia.
Paperback, 200 pages. Published via UWA Publishing.
$29.99 available online, at the LWAG Shop.