Spotlight falls on female artists in London

January 22, 2018

London Art Fair features all-female line-up and Underground launches year-long female exhibition Artist Mehtap Baydu has created a bust of her mother using her favourite dress as skin

The spotlight is firmly focused on female talent in London’s art world this year. London Art Fair kicked off 2018 by featuring an all-female line-up in its Dialogues exhibition and the London Underground began a year-long celebration of female artists. 
Dialogues, which places the work of different artists in conversation or contrast, was made up of the work of 24 female or female-identifying artists at this year’s show. The pieces all addressed female representation and recontextualization.
While some works explored the female body through relationships with the mother, others used female portraiture to investigate the conflicting rules of femininity in our society. Another collaboration focused on representation in the art world, questioning the persisting view of women as artisans rather than artists.
Female art has also been taking center stage elsewhere in the city. Marking 100 years since women in the U.K. won the right to vote, the mayor of its capital city, Sadiq Khan, has launched the #BehindEveryGreatCity campaign. As part of this celebration of women, the city’s main transport network, the London Underground, will exhibit works by female artists. 
Sadiq said: “Over the next year, and beyond, we will highlight how women of all ages, ethnicities, faiths and backgrounds make London the great city it is … More importantly, we will redouble our efforts in the fight for gender equality. During this momentous year and beyond, we must do all we can to remove any barriers to women’s success and to unlock their full potential.”
This fresh focus on female art follows hot on the heels of criticism of the male bias in the U.K. government’s art collection. Labour, the country’s opposition party, this month published figures showing that three quarters of works acquired in recent years were by men. 
Kevin Brenan, the shadow arts minister said: “Female artists are at least as talented as their male counterparts and the government should be setting an example by getting rid of the institutionalized bias in their acquisitions policy.”
As the center of one of the world’s biggest art markets, London has a significant influence on global market trends. This rebalancing of gender representation in London could cause a ripple of change to spread elsewhere. 
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