Last month the National Gallery of Victoria, and Australian state galleries more widely, were called out for their lack of female representation in major exhibitions. Melbourne artist Elvis Richardson told the Guardian that when galleries continue to put their weight behind men, “women artists have reason to feel less confident that their work and practice will be accepted and supported and championed”.
The under-representation of female art isn’t discouraging Melbourne creative Melissa Grisanchich, though. In fact, it’s doing the opposite.
For the past six month, Grisancich has been busy curating SPRING-TIME, a collective exhibition showing the works of 19 female artists from Victoria, New South Wales, South Australia, Japan and Denmark.
Showing at Collingwood’s RVCA Corner Gallery, SPRING-TIME features oil and acrylic paintings, wooden sculpture, embroidery, ceramics, collages and murals.
Ahead of the unveiling on September 29, we chatted with Grisancich.
Broadsheet: Why an all-female show?
Melissa Grisanchich: I have been managing the RVCA Corner Gallery for the past three years now and an opportunity arose for me to curate my own show. I'm an advocate for RVCA Womens and am always thinking of Margaret Kilgallen [an artist from San Francisco who died in 2001] and how she was motivated to make work about celebrating female artists and achievers that go under the radar. I thought now was a good time for me to do the same but involve 18 other artists to contribute.
BS: Do you think there is a lack of female representation in Melbourne’s art scene, or Australia’s more widely?
MG: I do feel there is a lack of representation in Australia and I feel there are ways we can create awareness to overcome this. One of them is to keep creating platforms for female artists. I believe that we have enough motivation and power to keep this going even more so. And it's happening now, Melbourne especially has a lot going on for the female art scene, whether it’s music, writing, zines, film etc. We don't need to focus on the major blockbusters at NGV to define where we are at in the art scene.
BS: How did you select the other 18 women exhibiting?
MG: I wanted to have a show with a wide range of disciplines and also artists at different stages in their careers. I’ve got artists who haven't participated in any exhibitions outside of university, to artists who have been in the scene for a very long time, that I have been looking up to for quite some time. I thought, why not create a show where we celebrate the work they make? Rather than the stages that they are at with their following and art careers. I wanted to bring the attention back to the art that these girls live and breathe.
BS: As a collective, what does SPRING-TIME aim to represent or achieve?
MG: SPRING-TIME aims to be an inviting and humble exhibition. To represent female artists as a whole, showing the audience what we can do and most of all inspire other artists to do the same.
BS: Any particular works or artists we should keep an eye out for?
MG: Madeline Simm is a young and emerging artist. Her work is growing and evolving fast, which is refreshing to see. Also look out for Sarah Gosling’s oil paintings and Fiona Simmons’s ceramics. She has a studio called Real Job Studios in Brunswick that holds jewellery and ceramics classes. I love that there are artists in this show that we can learn new skills from.
BS: What can we expect from your art in the exhibition?
MG: I've made work that reflects what influences my work personally. I have created an embroidery piece inspired by the Making the Australian Quilt exhibition at the NGV; a portrait of Patti Smith I've painted called St.Patti; and a sculpture that I have salvaged from an antique store. I love collecting old things and giving them a new life.
BS: If you could describe SPRING-TIME in three words, what would they be?
MG: Change, blossom and evolve.
SPRING-TIME will run from September 23 to October 16.
RVCA Corner Gallery
82 Stanley Street, Collingwood
Fri, Sat & Sun 11am–4pm
This article was updated on October 13, 2016.