Women have been making, selling, and collecting artworks and artefacts for centuries, but few have reached the status and renown of many of their male counterparts. While many men collecting art have gone on to found internationally famous museums, galleries and institutions to house their collection, there are fewer women collectors who have been in such a privileged position historically.
Similarly, women artists and historical figures have often been overlooked by key collections, and the often fascinating and rich stories of their lives and works neglected. Where artworks, documentation, and objects relating to the lives of men are often carefully collected, catalogued and preserved by collections of all sizes, there has been much work to do to restore this balance to uncover and share stories of – and by – women connected to the visual arts.
In the fifth event in the ‘Considering Collecting’ series, our panel will explore this ‘rebalancing’ in more depth. Looking not only at the lives and careers of women artists, collectors and historical figures who are often hidden within the narratives of major museums and galleries, but also at what it means to be a woman art dealer, collector, advisor and artist today, our panel will draw on and share their own experience. They will explore why these women have been overlooked in the past, and discuss what might be done to make collections, exhibitions, art fairs, and the wider art market more representative today, in both the private and public sphere.
This event is part of the Open Courtauld strand, organised by The Research Forum.
Sue Jelley PPSWA SPF works in the Surrey Hills and enjoys using acrylics, oils and pastels. She is a Director of the Society of Women Artists (SWA) and she was their President from 2012 to 2017. Sue is also a member of the Societe des Pastellistes de France (SPF) and the Worshipful Company of Painter Stainers and she chairs their Fine Art Committee, where ‘Art in the City’ has now become an important part of the city scene. Sue’s paintings are in private and public collections in the UK and internationally.
The Society of Women Artists (SWA) is a British art body and registered charity that has had a unique history dedicated to promoting art created by women. It was founded as the Society of Female Artists (SFA) in 1855 by Harriet Grote. The society changed their name in 1874 to that of the Society of Lady Artists (SLA) and again in 1912 to that of the Society of Women Artists. Since 1857, they have held annual exhibitions in London with the exception of the years: 1941 to 1946, due to the Second World War, and in 2020, where due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they had to replace the physical exhibition with an online exhibition.
Susan J. Mumford is a sector-supporting entrepreneur for the art market. Having arrived in the UK from the USA in 2000, she ran a gallery in Soho, London, from 2006-11. When the art world entered a new era following the credit crunch, she founded the Association of Women Art Dealers (AWAD), an international multi-chapter non-profit network connecting women and women-identifying art dealers on a global basis. This was followed by the creation of Be Smart About Art, an online-accessible professional development platform that helps creative professionals thrive in a changing world.
The Association of Women Art Dealers (AWAD) is an international not-for-profit network of women art dealers that facilitates business and collaborations between and for members at all stages of their career as business owners. All members operate to the Code of Conduct, and those attracted to the network are collaboratively-minded, forward-thinking professionals that operate with transparency and professionalism. Equality and inclusion are core to AWAD, and applications for membership are open to women / women-identifying art dealers (incl. gallerists and advisors) without any contacts within the organisation.
Makgati Molebatsi retired from a thirty-year career in Marketing and Communications to study Art & Business at Sotheby’s Institute of Art in London in 2016 to pursue her passion for visual art. She founded the art consultancy, Mak’Dct Art Advisory & Agency to provide guidance to private collectors, corporates, and early career artists in navigating the contemporary art world. In 2019, she was part of the team which cofounded Latitudes Art Fair in Johannesburg and from 2021 until recently occupied the position of Senior Art Specialist at Aspire Art. She has served on the board of The Bag Factory Artists’ Studios. Makgati holds a BA(SS) Degree from The University of the North.
Claire Willetts has worked in the museum sector for twenty years, including 12 years as the Collections and Exhibitions Curator at Braintree Museum, Essex. She curated an exhibition for the Courtauld Connects project at Braintree Museum titled ‘Courtaulds 1816-1982 Origins, Innovations and Family’ which opened in 2020 and which explored the company’s development in North Essex and the histories of different members of the Courtauld family. She is passionate about sharing hidden historical stories.
The Considering Collecting Series
Collections of art and artefacts can be found everywhere, from major museums and galleries to the lobbies and offices of international businesses to people’s homes. Some collections are made by committee, influenced by trends and investments, while others are driven by personal taste and choice. Decisions about who and what to collect can be made strategically, based on gaps in an existing collection or the increasing value of a type of work, or can be more spontaneous and subjective, dependent on an affinity with an artist, medium, or period.
The six online events in the ‘Considering Collecting’ series explore collecting from different perspectives, lifting the lid on the behind-the-scenes of the art market and the museum sector. The series will cover a broad range of issues including: what motivates people and organisations to collect; the impact of digital technologies on collecting; caring for collections, including documenting, cataloguing, and labelling; how ephemeral artworks can be collected; the historical and contemporary position of women in the world of collecting; and how organisations are working to create more representative art collections.
Supported by Laurence C. Zale Associates, Inc., a visual arts advisory company