CASE FOR SUPPORT
Women’s art across the world has gone unrecognised for long enough!
SHEILA is a national foundation that addresses the historical and continuing gender bias against women in Australian art. It supports and celebrates women artists through research projects, public awareness and advocacy campaigns, lectures and exhibitions, and assists the Cruthers Collection of Women’s Art at The University of Western Australia in its mission to paint women back into the history of Australian art.
The aim is to achieve an endowment fund of $2 million, building on the Cruthers family’s initial donation of $600,000. Returns on the fund will allow an annual grant of $100,000 to bring these programs to life.
Why is SHEILA needed? A walk through most Australian art museums reveals that up to 80% of artworks are by men. Where is the art by women? What view of Australia would we see if art by women made up 50% of museum displays? SHEILA aims to answer these questions.
Things are not much better for living artists. Research shows women suffer gender imbalance in nine of 10 key areas in contemporary art. 73% of art school students are women, but they contribute only 37% of artworks on display in state collections. Less than 40% of articles in Australian art magazines are on women artists, and they feature on only 20% of their covers. Women win slightly more art prizes than men, but monetarily men win a significantly larger share of the prize pool.
SHEILA was inspired by Lady Sheila Cruthers, a visionary collector who built the Cruthers Collection of Women’s Art. Gifted to UWA in 2007 and comprising 700 works, it's Australia’s largest stand-alone collection of women’s art and has been described as “a tremendous resource for the rethinking of Australian art”. In 2007 Lady Sheila set up a private foundation to support the Collection and advocate for women artists, and in 2017 it transitioned to SHEILA, a public foundation.
SHEILA’s Going Global program will take the Cruthers Collection of Women’s Art to the world to increase the visibility of Australian women’s art. The program will provide online access to the Cruthers Collection of Women's Art, explore national touring avenues and fund publications to increase its availability to users beyond the physical gallery.
SHEILA will redress the historical gender imbalance through Into the Light: Recovering Australia’s lost women artists 1870-1960, to rediscover generations of women artists and make their work visible. In the contemporary arena, SHEILA will support The Countess Report, a regular count of gender equality in contemporary art. This will provide data to argue for reforms that ensure today’s women artists have equal access and representation.
Join with SHEILA and the Collection in this quest to overturn systemic bias, improve gender balance and give a voice to women artists - past, present and future. More information on the full scope of what SHEILA will achieve is available on our website.