"In Australian arts media, 34% female artists, 61% male artists and 5% collaborations were the subject of feature articles and reviews. The covers included only 20% female artists and 80% male artists."



Going Global | Taking the Cruthers Collection of Women’s Art to the world

Increasing the visibility of Australian women’s art is a core value for SHEILA. Our Going Global program will focus on creating online access to the Cruthers Collection of Women's Art, along with national touring and publications to increase its availability. These initiatives are important to extend the reach of women’s art into the lives of every Australian and to provide international audiences with a more inclusive history of Australian art. SHEILA will take a lead role to create a world where contemporary and historical women’s art and women artists are equitably represented, celebrated and acknowledged.


Kelly Doley, Things learnt about feminism #1-#95 2014 (detail), ink on card, 95 sheets, each 60 x 52 cm, installation view, Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne. Courtesy Cruthers Collection of Women’s Art, The University of Western Australia. Photo Andrew Curtis.

Filling the Gap: Recovering Australia’s lost women artists 1870-1960

SHEILA will write a new inclusive history of Australian art. It is well known that Australia’s women artists faced many obstacles in building careers. They were often overlooked and their work slipped from view. Filling the Gap is a comprehensive national initiative to locate, document and celebrate generations of women artists in Australia.

SHEILA will commission research in every state with the goal of uncovering active, exhibiting, professional women artists from the period 1870 to 1960. Phase 1, New South Wales 1870-1914, is now complete and SHEILA’s research uncovered over 400 professional women artists, of whom only 10% were on the public record. When complete, SHEILA’s Filling the Gap web-based, searchable database has the capacity to transform the history of Australian art for generations to come. 


Maud Sherwood, On the way to Market, Brittany, 1913, watercolour, 67.5 x 43 cm. Cruthers Collection of Women's Art, The University of Western Australia. Courtesy the Maud Sherwood Estate.

The Countess Report

The organisation Countess has counted and published statistics about the participation of women in Australian contemporary art for over a decade. In 2014, with funding from the Cruthers Art Foundation, Countess undertook research to uncover the ongoing gender inequalities in the visual arts in Australia. The subsequent The Countess Report showed that women were under-represented in nine of the 10 key sectors of contemporary art, including in all state and national art collections and exhibitions, media coverage and art prizes. This count, which will be repeated every four years with assistance from SHEILA, is helping change the landscape for Australian women artists.

A consequence of the under-representation is a lack of material on women artists to support primary and secondary school curricula, which sees women’s art often accounting for less than 15% of the curriculum in many states. SHEILA is helping to change this by working with The Countess Report to develop primary and secondary educational materials on women artists, including many from the Cruthers Collection of Women's Art.


The Countess Report 2014.