International Womens Day - Tuesday 8 March 2022

Posted by Fiona Cable on

International Women's Day, Tuesday 8 March 2022, is a global day celebrating the historical, cultural, and political achievements of women. IWD has occurred for well over a century, with the first IWD gathering in 1911 supported by over a million people. Today, IWD belongs to all groups collectively everywhere.

International Women's Day provides an important and exciting opportunity to celebrate women's achievements and elevate visibility, to build an inclusive world - a world where diverse backgrounds, perspectives and talent are sought, valued and embraced.

Railway Street Gallery presents two exhibitions highlighting the achievements of women artists. A solo exhibition by Jacqueline Spencer-Macleod, I AM SHE, and a group exhibition by Railway Street Group artists.

Women of Substance by Jacqueline Spencer-Macleod

Robin White original Painting art for sale Auckland art gallery

Dame Robin White: ‘She Papatūānuku Force’

 A woman of immense work and drive in the arts - particularly in the Pacifica field in collaboration with woman in Tonga Fiji and Kiribati. A printmaker, a painter and a teacher, Robin grew up in Auckland.

Close to her family and the baby of the family she adored her father. Her family, generational workers of the land, worked as kumara farmers in Auckland. This inspired the title, Papatūānuku - earth mother. Robin attended Epsom Girls Grammar and became passionate in the visual arts, graduating with a diploma of fine arts the year I was born and I have looked to her work as a teacher and artist myself for decades.

The painting I have created of her has resonance and strength and meets the viewers gaze head on. She is represented by the Pacifica halo behind her head, a strong figurative positional stance in the foreground, representing hard work wearing a black T-shirt and peace symbol, an oxymoron to that is a Sergeants insignia worn on her T-shirt, representative of her father calling her his ‘little Lieutenant’, as she followed him around the family kumara patches as a child. Her tattooed arm reflects her Bahai faith that she grew up with, a woman of peace reflected in her T-shirt and representation of the dove and grasshopper. Rangitoto in the background has a chimney stack in it reflecting her drive and hard work ethic over the decades and a nod to Mary McIntyre, another feminist Auckland painter working around that time. The Northern landscape is to the right of her which is a significant part in use within her work. She was inspired by Jacqueline Fahey and in looking at her work at that period of time, Jacqueline was becoming so successful, Robin said to herself “if she can do it, so can I.”

 Jacqueline Fahey original Painting art for sale Auckland art gallery

Dame Jacqueline Fahey: ‘The Ultimate Feminist Motherload of All’

Do not go gentle into that good night, Old age should burn and rave at close of day; Rage, rage against the dying of the light. Though wise men at their end know dark is right, Because their words had forked no lightning they Do not go gentle into that good night.

True Grit ‘aka ‘@Maximum Volume. Fahey taught at Elam School of Fine Arts for many years. I have known of Jacqueline Fahey’s work for decades, referencing her work in influencing my students and certainly my own work. She has been an inspiration to many young women as a feminist who is bare, brave, brutal and bold. I first met Jacqueline at a friend’s place in Auckland for drinks a few years ago. My first impression of her was a relaxed but fierce woman wearing bright red stockings, long black over the knee boots and blue eyeshadow. She made it clear she was Jacq-lyn not Jacqueline; and she readily swore without abandon- my kind of woman. From there, she generously invited me to dinner at her place where I was honoured enough not only to see her latest painting in process but also over a casual dinner of sushi while she fed the cats, she read her latest poem to me, which had been freshly written. Bliss. I was then honoured to pick her up one evening to take her to the Wallace art awards where I was a finalist and she was a judge.

Jacqueline Fahey grew up in a large family of Irish Catholics in Timaru and went to Tischmakers College for girls. Jacqueline went onto school in Canterbury and needed places to exhibit and show her work. She was seen as a rising talent and invited into The Group in the 1960’s (formed originally in the late 1930s) with Evelyn Page, Rita Angus, Loise Henderson and Doris Lusk amongst others. Rita and Jacqueline organised the first gender balanced exhibition in New Zealand in 1964, where in addition, the ideas of Cultural Integration were their aim.

My work and inspiration of Jacqueline stems from meeting her and forming an artist friendship. She’s a no mess straight to it kind of woman and I like that. I painted her preliminary work with a fluid boldness that reflected a casual figurative stance but not a casual face. Her gaze is direct and unabashed and upon meeting her within the work you are drawn on to a challenge. Crows fly to the left of her, egging each other on, challenging the viewer to enter the painting and are representative of intellect and wit, of which she has plenty.

Louise Henderson original Painting art for sale Auckland art gallery

Dame Louise Henderson: ‘Shine Your Light on Me’

French born Louise emigrated to New Zealand where she received an Honorary Diploma of Fine Arts in 1931. She first exhibited with The Group in 1935, and spent some time painting with Rita Angus in Christchurch. Also a teacher at Elam, like Jacqueline, she spent a period of years between teaching and practising her own work. This painting is based on her last series of light explored across 12 months of a single year when she was in her eighties. Each painting is painted by the month. Each represents the seasons too. I have tried to emulate some of this behind her in the painting, as I found those works particularly luminous and filled with a sense of freedom and joy. Her questioning gaze is directed, uncompromisingly straight at the viewer with a challenge to step in to her world and to realise her true expression, without question. 

Hence the forming of my new painting- a collaboration between Louise and Jacqueline, being similar in their views; both feminists, both teachers, both strong forward-thinking artists. Louise was also a no-nonsense woman who took everything she did incredibly seriously. Painting is certainly a reflection of that seriousness with that ‘don’t f*** with me’ approach, that demanded New Zealand society stand up and take notice which of course It did. I decided that Louise being older than Jacqueline and certainly having shown before Jacqueline did, it was appropriate that she is holding the batten/(easel) of a portrait of Jacqueline, representing her future forward self as artist, feminist and teacher. The composition fell into place one afternoon as I was playing around with photocopies of both woman and there they stood before me, already formed.

With Louise’s studio in the background; Rangitoto smoking behind her (where there’s smoke, there’s fire) and the ubiquitous halo around her head to show her Mana, she stands with a strong head on gaze challenging you to take up the next batten. She holds Jacqueline painted, future-forward in front of her on her own easel, representing the next generation of Women Feminist Artists who will carry on the passion and ethos, having plenty to say and loudly! (‘Say Something’, ref: Christchurch Art Gallery Exhibition.) The red balloon is in reference to Jacqueline’s Birthday Party painting of her daughters in the 1960s and her ability to paint whatever the hell she liked as an artist who was free; the star in silver behind her head represents the ‘Rockstar’ that she is as a Feminist Artist and her golden heart represents her giving back to so many woman artists as teacher, mother and friend. Her age at 92 is no match for death (skull.)

Seraphine Pick painting art for sale Auckland art gallery

Seraphine Pick: ‘Floating in Your Dreams, Seraphine’

Seraphine has been for decades, a contemporary influence for many women artists in NZ and many artists in general, particularly for me. She attended Ilam School of Fina Arts in Canterbury and is a similar age to me.

Her first dream surrealist works ‘Tell Me More’ gathered force at the Christchurch Art Gallery and spoke loudly to me one day in the gallery. I was consumed and taken away to far places that day. My dreams have always been loud and memorable strange scapes and fragments of emotional energy that certainly resound within my paintings, like her paintings I guess. Therefore, to me she has been an ever-changing surreal-scape and figurative artist that has inspired my work to move into the realms of my own dreams. Her work ‘Looking like someone else’ certainly evoked the exploration of identity for me using repetition of portraiture, genericism, mystery and sexuality. I have also explored how being constantly online can make many young women want to be the generic female stereo-type, so within my work I have now un-typified the NZ femme and challenged Romanticism in painting by using the gaze- head-on. 

Julia Morison original Painting art for sale Auckland art gallery

Julia Morison – ‘The Tail of Decem’ 

Julia Morison has been an inspiration for my work for years and I was fortunate enough to be invited to meet her in her studio/home space through a friend. She is a feminist and a forward-thinker who works as a multi-disciplinarian from painting through to architecture and installation. Her diverse approach has inspired me to move through into sculpture. Her little chihuahua ‘Mouse’ had to be in the painting as he is a constant companion of hers in the studio, (as is Badger to me.) Hence the title ‘Tail’ (play on words) to the story or Tale of ‘Decem’ (Latin for ten). Morison always paints groups of works in which relate to Euclidian Mathematics.

Linda Tyler original Painting art for sale Auckland art gallery

Linda Tyler – ‘Professor Femme de Force’

Linda Tyler is an Associate Professor, Convenor of Museums and Cultural Heritage and Art Historian at Auckland University. She is a Feminist and passionate teacher of young women, having written a thesis on Robin White amongst others. Her inspiration came from her mother who inspired her culturally and took her to many galleries. Her aunt who lived in America when Linda was young used to visit often also influencing her. Linda has spoken many times on the Art Collection of Auckland University- in particular the women artists within the collection. As an art historian she has kept abreast of the Contemporary Art World in Auckland for many years.

Within the painting of Linda, I have represented her by showing her academic colours, adopting golden feathers on her shoulder to show flight/rise of Women and future-forward thinking. An official building of Romanesque design links to her academic qualifications in Art History. A Caesar’s wreath underneath her PHD Hat symbolising power and strength of a ‘great powerful man’ which now aligns with a woman able to have equal leadership powers in NZ along with the scales of Justice (Feminism.)

 Olivia Spencer-Bower portraits of NZ women artists original paintings Auckland art for sale

Olivia Spencer-Bower – ‘The Golden Legacy’

Olivia was born in England and then moved back with her Cantabrian mother and English father to Canterbury. She grew up with the independence of a young woman who had no ties and the luxury to please herself. Hence, she became a supported artist through her family and did not marry until she was nearly 40. An inspiration to many young women, she set up the Olivia Spencer-Bower Foundation in perpetuity for generations of Woman Artists to come after her; a supported annual Award to an emerging or mid-career Artist to have the freedom to express themselves unhindered by income. Also, the symbols represent as follows:

The Cigar: she always smoked these; the Snake symbolises the figure 8- mythical embodiment of eternity, ever-lasting life/legacy; Banks Peninsula in the background as her home base of Canterbury; The Golden Egg is for giving life/or birth to her continuing gift and legacy; the Jug - her ability to keep giving to others; The Golden Halo representing how others have seen her brilliance and talent.

Julie Ross original Painting art for sale Auckland art gallery

Julie Ross- Hare and Tale 

Julie hails from a farming family in Hakataramea, Canterbury and is an identical twin. She is an artist, art teacher and friend. Julie is a talented sculptor and printmaker, exhibiting in Auckland and Christchurch like myself. She has an absolute love of the land and its animals, hence her cat milo and Hare (off the farm), plus her love for Hieronymus Bosch represented in this portrait. It is two of her, (not her identical twin Marie), as I wanted to show the two sides of her that I know. The dramatic, confident and engaging person as opposed to the quiet, introverted animal loving side of her. We each of us have many guises that are present to the world and then at home intimately with the ones we love and share our lives with. The ‘Eye’ on her Forehead is her returning from Egypt just in time before 1st Lockdown with Covid arriving. The man making an offering to the Egyptian Cat God is my humour of Men serving Woman and a male being subservient.

 To purchase a work online click here


← Older Post Newer Post →