Australia to open its first commercial gallery dedicated to female artists

The Finkelstein Gallery, which will focus exclusively on the works of female artists, opens next week in Melbourne.

As contemporary art mirrors society, I think it’s the perfect time for our gallery” said the Finkelstein’s founder, art consultant Lisa Fehily.

Showcasing a “small, exclusive” group of 10 artists, the new gallery hopes to offer greater representation and more intensive career development for contemporary female artists.

The first exhibition will display works by two international artists – Sonal Kantaria from the UK, and Kim Lieberman from South Africa – and eight Australian artists – Cigdem Aydemir, Kate Baker, Monika Behrens, Coady, Deborah Kelly, Louise Paramor, Lisa Roet and Kate Rohde.

Fehily is especially interested in opening a global path for these artists “to put them into strategic collections, institutions, so they can leave their legacy”.

Performance, visual art, sculpture, glass and text will be represented amongst the artworks on display.

Privately funded with the assistance of a silent partner, Fehily’s venture was inspired by the work of other national initiatives. In 2016, the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington campaigned for equal representation of female artists with their #5WomenArtists project. The National Gallery of Australia also recently hosted a #knowmyname campaign.

After working with artists for many years, I have been witness to female artists being overlooked, not being put forward for important exhibitions, and institutions predominantly considering male artists for collections,” explained Fehily.

Only 34% of artwork in Australian state museums is by female artists, while commercial galleries show 40% female artists.

When asked whether her initiative was simply philosophical or instead exploited a market niche, Fehily confessed she was doing “a bit of both”.

It’s a business,” she said. “It’s taking people’s careers and making them successful. The understanding of commercial success is imperative.”

Finkelstein Gallery will not be a closed space to any gender, although Fehily asserted that for now, “I think it’s really important that we are female-run, and we consist of female artists.”

Earlier this year, UK national museums similarly acknowledged the marginalisation of women in the art world by accepting “historical injustice”. But it is progressive initiatives like the Finkelstein Gallery that are beginning to actively tackle the under-representation of female artists in the art world.

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