Ask someone to name five artists and responses will likely include names such as Warhol, Picasso, van Gogh, Monet, da Vinci – all male artists.
So, for Women’s History Month this March, we wanted to take part in a social media challenge put forward by the National Museum of Women in the Arts addressing the gender imbalance in how art is presented – can you name five women artists?
We wanted to share with our followers some of the fantastic objects we have in our collection made by female artists and makers.
These beautiful papercuts were specially made for the Horniman in 2008 as part of an exhibition we ran on the art of Polish papercuts. They are of the 'Gwiazda' type from the Kurpie region of Poland. Gwiazda means ‘star’ in Polish and these types of papercuts are made from a single sheet of coloured paper, typically featuring geometric designs.
The circular blue papercut has an asymmetrical picture of Mary and the baby Jesus in the centre, and geometrical design around them. The circular black papercut has an asymmetrical picture of a dancing couple from the Kurpie region in the centre, with a geometrical design around them.
Read more about Polish papercutting.
Lynette Nampijimpa Granites Nelson
Lynette is a Warlpiri Indigenous Australian artist from Yuendumu, a town in the Northern Territory of Australia. Warlpiri country is east of the border between Western Australia and the Northern Territory in the Tanami Desert.
The painting below is titled 'Ngapa Jukurrpa' or 'Water Dreaming'. It is painted in white, red, ochre-yellow and black dot method typical of the Western Desert artists.
The concept of 'Dreaming' is among the most important in Indigenous Australian culture, and combines in one term (that cannot be easily translated into English) knowledge about the timeless prehistoric period of creation, the actions of supernatural beings and ancestors in the world, and the geographical features of the artist's homeland. A dreaming is part history, part theology, part literature and part geography lesson. Here is represented water falling and flowing across the land near Mount Theo.
Several other Warlpiri painters have painted their own interpretations of the 'Water Dreaming', but the works of Lynette Granites Nampijimpa are widely regarded as among the finest of all Indigenous Australian paintings from the later 20th century.
Read more about Water Dreaming.
These wonderful carnival dance costumes were made by Toula Sykopetritis and worn by her granddaughter, Maria Pieri, in the Limassol carnival in Cyprus.
One represents a bunch of bananas and was made for the 1989 carnival. It includes a pill box-shaped hat with a banana attached. The other costume was made for the 1991 carnival and is shaped like a bunch of pink radishes. There are padded radish shapes in pink fabric stitched to the surface of the body area, with some pieces of green fabric attached to represent foliage.
Storytellers are important traditional roles in many Native American societies. This figure, from the Cochiti Pueblo in New Mexico, is a depiction of a Cochiti elder, mouth agape as the story unfolds, with children seated on his legs.
The first Cochiti potter to create a story-teller was Helen Codero, who was at the forefront of the Cochiti artistic revival in the mid-twentieth century. She felt that pottery vessels were not expressive enough of the Cochiti way of life and so began to make figurines of her grandfather and the stories he told, depicting the way in which the oral histories of the Cochiti people bind generations together.
This piece, produced in the early 1990s, was made by her granddaughter Buffy Cordero-Suina, a noted potter who produced many story-tellers.
Following her grandmother's death in 1994, she stopped producing pottery altogether.
This wooden string puppet is painted white with a papier mache headdress highlighted with gold pigment. The puppet wears a costume suggesting a Chinese or Japanese robe embroidered with two cranes, butterflies and flowers. Various strings attach it to a wooden suspension bar.
It was made by Olive Blackham (1899 – 2002) who has been described as a pioneer and a visionary, who elevated puppetry to a high art form. She lived near Birmingham where she set up her own full-time professional Puppet Theatre - The Roel Puppet Theatre – which was very successful.
Read more about Olive Blackham and her Puppet Theatres.