Since Broadsheet last caught up with it in August, The Ladies Network has been busy. Lara Vrkic founded the artistic collective last year in an attempt to break up what she saw as the dominating boys club of Sydney’s art scene. And it has been making a difference.

“We started [The Ladies Network] because so many of our friends were doing stuff but didn’t have the confidence to show it in an exhibition … they didn’t feel like they were artists,” says founder Lara Vrkic. “[But now] we receive around 10 submissions a day.”

In November the group held its largest Ladies Exhibit yet. It showed at amBUSH gallery for a week and showcased almost 40 artists. It has also been throwing art nights at Freda’s and other small bars with performance pieces, music and zines.

Now that the group has fostered an environment of creative collaboration and support, its next step is to help artists earn money from their art. So The Ladies Network has launched an online art store.

Currently the art store is curated around the theme of Desert Dreams. Works from more than 30 artists are featured. The bunch includes established artists, such as Sydney painter Claire Nakazawa; Wollongong artist Jess Cochrane who mixes mediums by painting over portrait photography. It also features emerging artists such as Marrickville photographer Morgan Crowcroft-Brown; and Carla Uriarte, a Sydney-based illustrator and writer.

For the store’s launch The Ladies Network reached out to artists, although in the future the online store will stock submitted artworks, too.

“We’re trying to get rid of exclusiveness in the art scene,” says Vrkic.

The inclusiveness the group is encouraging extends to those looking to buy art. While some pieces are priced at up to $2000, lots of works in the store hover around $200 and and some prints are $20.

Vrkic hopes the store will be a platform for students and others who are excited by art, but intimidated by its price tag. For newcomers Vrkic’s main piece of advice is do your research.

“Know a little bit about the artists – it’s always nice to have a connection to the artists, and an understanding of their body of work. Never rush into buying art. You should plan pieces rather than making an impulse buy.”

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