Female artists take centre stage at The Scottish Gallery

Edinburgh’s The Scottish Gallery seeks to challenge gender bias with its latest exhibition, Modern Masters Women (30th July – 29th August)

Despite the fact that women have always been integral to the institution of art, many women artists have faced difficulty in gaining recognition in the art world, often finding opposition in the narrative of art history. Women were regarded as models, mistresses and muses, rather than candidates for the Academy.

Edinburgh’s The Scottish Gallery seeks to change this with its latest exhibition, Modern Masters Women, which celebrates a collection of major female artists throughout history. Looking forwards as well as back, the exhibition revisits great names of the past, and also some names that are less well known in modern day – most importantly, however, the exhibition has invited leading contemporary painters to participate and showcase their work.

Kate Downie, New Day Crossing 2018, oil on canvas, 100 x 100 cms

Over the last hundred years, The Scottish Gallery has included all major female Scottish artists in its exhibitions, as well as showcasing many others who made contributions to the art world, in an era when sexism and gender bias was routine. Artists including Anne Redpath and Joan Eardley earned senior position in Scotland’s artists’ firmament by right – paving the way for the next generation, who sat at the top table with their male peers.

Hannah Mooney, Seascape II, 2018, oil on board, 40.5 x 73.5 cm

Modern Masters Women emphasises the commercial potential of each of the artists in the exhibition – and makes no apologies about showcasing these amazing women, or taking an exclusive curatorial position. Artists featured in the exhibition include: Anne Redpath (1895-1965), Lily Cottrell (1896 -1984), Winifred McKenzie (1905 -2001), Sylvia Wishart (1936-2008), Lil Neilson (1938 -1998), Elizabeth Blackadder, Victoria Crowe, Kate Downie, Claire Harkess, Angie Lewin and Hannah Mooney.

Elizabeth Blackadder - Mixed Flowers and Jug, watercolour, 57 x 80 cms

“The Scottish Gallery's positivity can be explained, in part, by a commercial pragmatism,” Christina Jansen, the managing director of The Scottish Gallery, mentions. “For the collector, the gender of the artist is of little concern, the initial reaction to a work of art devoid of the prejudice that led many women writers in the previous century to adopt male noms-de-plume.”

Joan Eardley, A Wave Study, 1957, oil on board, 49 x 91 cm

“In the twenties the art colleges were full of aspirant, creative young women understanding the new societal contract after WWI which allowed much more equality –not only in the ballot box,” Jansen continues. “These were heady days, not as yet undermined by the political correctness which today undervalues individual talent in favour of identity politics: if you were good enough The Scottish Gallery would offer you a one woman show, not because it needed to fulfil a quota.”

Modern Masters Women runs at The Scottish Gallery from Thursday 30th July to Saturday 29th August 2020, both in person by appointment (to maintain social distancing), and online.


Feature image: Anne Redpath, Anemones, c.1962, oil on panel, 38 x 51 cms

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