"Dedicated to women who work in oils, acrylics, blood and obscurity" : the Women's Art Movement in Aotearoa and its first organisers
Type of content
As with much in women's history, even recent events in our past have been rendered invisible by male historians and the art establishment. Nowhere in the main stream art history books or catalogues has there been a significant discussion of the history or contribution of the New Zealand Women's Art Movement to art in this country. Nor have the women involved featured, to any extent, in public exhibitions or in art historical analyses of recent New Zealand art. This thesis is an attempt to redress this situation. The New Zealand Women's Art Movement originally evolved in Christchurch in the early 1970s, and owes its existence to Heather McPherson, Allie Eagle, Joanna Paul, Jane Zusters and Anna Keir. These women initiated the exhibitions and projects which established the foundations of the Movement. They became the vehicle through which the Women's Art Movement developed, and which eventually spread throughout New Zealand. The ideology of the Movement in this country was greatly influenced by America and Britain. However, there was the need to create an Antipodean version of the Women's Art Movement which was based on the experiences of women in this country. Focusing on the five Christchurch women provides a coherent way in which to analyse the Women's Art Movement and discuss their contribution to its formation. The Women's Art Movement disintegrated after the closure of the Women's Gallery in 1984. Since then, the careers of the five women artists have developed in differing directions. Even after the Movement ceased to exist in this country, its positive effect on the position of women in the visual arts was still apparent.