In 2014-5 Lucy Day + Eliza Gluckman were supported to undertake a period of research and development for A Woman’s Place using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England, National Trust and Bexley Heritage Trust. This saw us working more prominently in the discourse of feminism and led to the exhibition Liberties: 40 Years Since the Sex Discrimination Act, that first showed at Collyer Bristow Gallery, London in 2015 and subsequently on the 21st October at the Exchange, Penzance.
The title is taken from a book by Ruth Adam (Persephone Books) that charts the role of women in society from 1910-1975, ending with the Sex Discrimination Act. Day + Gluckman took this as a perfect starting point to look at why we are living in a society that is currently scared of the f-word.
The purpose of this grant was to collate existing ideas and investigate more fully the feasibility, appetite, content, timeline and funding for A Woman’s Place Project, and start the process of developing audiences for the next phase.
Our key targets for the grant were: contextual research, a symposium in partnership with an arts venue; pinpointing key sites, research and funding partners, artist studio /gallery visits, initiation of publicity campaign, all contributing towards a larger funding bid.
The symposium was the keystone of this period of research – it both gave us a goal to work towards and was crafted to be of interest to an audience as well as create and hopefully answer some of our questions in a public arena.
Titled ‘CoHabiting: Feminism, History and Contemporary Art’ the symposium took place at The Old Courtroom, part of Brighton and Hove Pavilion and Museum kindly given to us ‘for the afternoon of the 10th January 2015 where we presented an introduction followed by two chaired panels. A full house, heard great presentations with a balance of historic, contemporary art and feminist perspectives. The audience was predominantly made up of artists, with only one man in the audience. This fact may well be recognised by organisers of women -focussed events globally.
Another aspect that has proved influential in the development of A Woman’s Place in general were the discussion groups. Small in number but mighty in voice and thinking it profoundly shifted how we drew on other women artists/curators/academics/ activists voices to help us navigate a way forward. As a result of one of these groups in particular we actively begin to describe ourselves as ‘feminist curators’, in private and in public.
Image: Tamsyn Challenger, ‘Selfie Brank 1 (Facebook)’, 2013. Image courtesy the artist and Beaconsfield