The Ladies Network provides a platform for female artists to exhibit their work. Founder Lara Vrkic believes women are underrepresented in Sydney’s art scene. “Males dominate art. I wanted to go against that and start a girl gang,” she says.

To achieve this, Vrkic has drawn inspiration from her friends. “I know so many creative females, but they don’t show their work to anyone,” she says. Vrkic explains that it can be a daunting process organising an exhibition, particularly in an environment with so many established male artists. But The Ladies Network provides a much-needed avenue for professional artists to exhibit, as well as women who Vrkic has identified as having a creative talent worth sharing.

Apart from Vrkic, the ladies behind The Ladies are Emmeline Peterson, Jess Mincher, Carol Bowditch, Rosie Whelan, Eliza Brockwell, Evie Phillips and Arabella Peterson. The Ladies shared an interest in art and music prior to establishing the network, and would often see each other at gigs or exhibitions. “When I started The Ladies, I contacted them or they approached me about being involved. We have been working together ever since,” Vrkic says. Together they organise the network’s bi-monthly exhibitions and manage online content. The Ladies Network puts an emphasis on promoting artists prior to exhibitions through social media. “Part of organising the event is posting content and finding opportunities for the artists, it’s almost like I manage them in the lead up to the exhibition,” says Vrkic.

The upcoming show, The Ladies Exhibition No. 2, will explore the themes of community and collaboration and feature 33 established and emerging female artists as well as three DJs. “Our events are more of an art party than an exhibition,” Vrkic says. The art will focus on the female body and expectations placed on women. “A number of works look at the role of the male or external gaze in setting these expectations,” says Vrkic. “Where gender inequality is highlighted in our art it is largely explored in a way that focuses on the opportunities women are seizing in reconstructing their role in society.” Vrkic feels that the pieces in The Ladies Exhibition No. 2 will exhibit a sense of positivity and confidence. The audience can expect drawings on leather and elaborate selfie-stick sculptures.

The network has been supported by men and women in the Sydney art community. “It’s not so much differentiating ourselves from men, it’s getting men on board as supporters of women. It’s nice seeing guys getting behind us,” Vrkic says. She encourages the public to support female artists by buying their work and spreading awareness “that there are female artists out there."

The Ladies Exhibition No.2 will be held on August 7 from 6pm–9pm at District 01’s new creative space, 46 Foveaux St, Surry Hills. Young Henrys will be providing beer and welcome cocktails made with their signature Noble Cut Gin.