Since the early colonial days of relative anonymity, women artists in New Zealand have come to establish a significant presence in art history and contemporary art practice. The Whangarei Art Museum is opening its vaults in this collection-focused exhibition showcasing art works by New Zealand women artists acquired by the art museum over the years.
Featuring art works from the early 20th– 21st Centuries, women artists navigated through a myriad of social constraints and biases, overseas art influences and extreme isolation in a young country still finding its sense of place and identity. Hidden behind the deceptively ‘genteel’ art works of early women artists, balancing the lingering colonial ideals and the beginnings of a new self awareness of NZ identity, lies the strength, boldness and unwavering vision of the professional woman artist in NZ.
As opportunities increased and more women had access to teachers and art schools, so too did the challenges as women strove to establish an art practice while facing the hardships of the Great Depression and the war era. Towards the end of the 20th Century was a time where women broke the mould and a more prominent branching out in the use of media and subject matter as well as individual styles could be seen.
Included in the exhibition are works by local Whangarei artists and a re-focus on the museum’s foundation works by Adele Younghusband, showcasing her mastery and delicacy at depicting the female figure. Also exhibited for the first time are new loans from the Arboretum Trust Collection and private local collections.