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Art

By Framd | 05 December 2019

‘NOW’ is the time for women to move forward in art

Anne Al-Othman is an artist from Greater Manchester, she set up the Northern Women’s Art Collective five years ago to help female artists support each other and exhibit together to reach a wider audience. She talks us through the collective’s journey, past, present and future.

Northern Women’s Art Collective

How did the Northern Women’s Art Collective journey start?

We started the collective because we realised that working together encouraged us to do more with our art, and we always felt that female artists were under-represented and this would help raise our profile. We also realised that time was moving on and we needed to do something NOW.

Why set up a collective and not simply meet up casually?

We chose to create a collective because we wanted a group that would motivate and support each other on an ongoing basis, and provide a platform where we could bounce ideas around – a collective seemed like the best way forward.

Northern Women's Collective
Northern Women’s Art Collective

 

 
Love A good green swirl!
Northern Women’s Art Collective

 

 

 

 

When was your first exhibition?

Before our first exhibition, we organised an initial meeting through, Meet-Up where we received over 100 responses! We went on to have our first meeting with 19 people at NEXUS, an art cafe in Manchester city centre. It went really well, it could have turned into nothing but luckily, from here we’ve formed a fantastic group of artists, all with lots of common ground, albeit very different interests and talents within art. Following our first meeting; we hosted our first ever exhibition at NEXUS with around 12 people and we’re now a solid group of around seven and it works really well.

What is your ethos?

Our main message is women supporting women. We believe female artists are often overlooked and the majority of work on art gallery walls has been created by male artists. There is a real need for women to work together, to encourage each other and push each other forward. There are other female groups like the Gorilla Girls, and others that exist in the States, but other than that, there isn’t a lot of women art collectives. We’ve never done an overtly political/feminist exhibition but we wouldn’t rule this out. We don’t want to shock on purpose, our message about female artists is delivered through our very existence.

Who is part of your collective?

There’s now seven core members with two or three people who float in and out according to what is happening in their life. Some of us have full time jobs and some are full-time artists, we often do our own individual work too, as well as exhibiting through the collective.

Christelle is a photographer, painter and textile artist; Sue Chapman is also a photographer and painter; Suelaluna is a painter; Julie, a photographer and Tricia Ashworth is a performance poet and painter, and Sarah Pink, is a Ceramics artist and painter.

How often do you get together?

We meet about once per month, usually we will do a workshop and some painting or textiles work, and we’ll have a business planning meeting to discuss what we have coming up and delegate tasks. We talk through ideas and themes of our exhibitions, each one has a theme, such as identity or the environment, we like to keep them as loose as possible, leaving room for interpretation. If there is an exhibition coming up then our meet ups are usually focussed on that.

What is the future for Northern Women’s Art Collective?

At the moment, our focus is not necessarily growing our member numbers but growing what we do; exhibiting more and increasing our publicity activities. We feel we’ve been really lucky with how we work together and how our work complements each other’s. Our only limitation is time!

In January, we’ll be exploring the possibility of exhibiting as a collective at the Manchester Open at HOME, international contemporary art, our involvement in this as a collective is likely to be next year or possibly the year after.

Where can people see your work at the moment?

Some of us have work in the Oldham Open at Gallery Oldham, Tricia has got an exhibition at the Eighth Day Café in Manchester and quite a few of us have some work at the Tea Hive in Chorlton, while others have entered individually at the HOME exhibition. Sarah’s ceramics can be viewed at various exhibitions, including the Clay Studio.

 

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