"Women are 75% of art school graduates but only 34% of artists exhibited in our state museums and galleries."

All statistics from The Countess Report 2014



SHEILA A Foundation for Women in Visual Art

SHEILA is a national foundation that will paint women back into the history of Australian art. It will support and celebrate women artists through research projects, public awareness and advocacy campaigns, symposiums, lectures and exhibitions, and will assist the Cruthers Collection of Women’s Art at The University of Western Australia.

Why is SHEILA needed? A walk through most Australian art museums reveals 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 art museum displays? SHEILA aims to answer these questions.

Things are not much better for living artists. Research suggests 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 established in 2017 as a public company, taking over the aims and work of the Cruthers Art Foundation, a private family foundation begun by Sir James and Lady Sheila Cruthers in 2007. The Cruthers family donated the Cruthers Collection of Women’s Art to The University of Western Australia in 2007, and established the Foundation to support the Collection and women artists more broadly.

Named in honour of Lady Sheila Cruthers, SHEILA gives a nod to Australian women and Lady Cruthers in particular. Lady Cruthers was the founder and driving force behind the Cruthers Collection of Women's Art. Read more about Lady Sheila and her passion for collecting and supporting women’s art and artists HERE.

The aim is to build an endowment fund of $2 million. The Cruthers family has made an initial donation of $600,000 to the fund.

SHEILA acknowledges the traditional custodians of country, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, throughout Australia and recognises their continuing connection to land, waters and community. We pay our respects to them and their cultures; and to Elders both past and present.


Ann Newmarch, Women hold up half the sky, 1978, screenprint, 2nd state 15/35, 83 x 60 cm. Cruthers Collection of Women's Art, The University of Western Australia. Courtesy the artist.

Julie Dowling, Wudjula Yorgah (White Woman), 2005, acrylic and red ochre on canvas, 120 x 100 cm. Cruthers Collection of Women's Art, The University of Western Australia. © Julie Dowling/Copyright Agency, 2018.
[portrait of Lady Sheila Cruthers].