Monthly Archives: March 2011

Art in Cardiff to celebrate International Women’s Day

As part of the Breaking the Waves feminist festival, there are a number of women-centric art exhibitions in Cardiff this week.

The celebrations for the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day are focused around women and art, and festival organisers are holding events such as life drawing workshops, craftivism and art exhibitions.

One of the exhibitions, Bodies and Selves in Milgi’s in City Road, shows work from both male and female artists and is an exploration of gender through various art forms.

The curator, French artist Emilie Collins said: “It was important for me not to exclude male artists, they can be feminist as well.  We should not exclude anyone or limit the scope people can reach.”

One of the main artists, Tomasz Zawistowski has produced a number of pieces which explore sexuality and the boundaries between what is considered erotic and what is considered pornographic.

Exploring the boundaries: work by Tomasz Zawistowski

His beautiful images show  various body parts in unusual ways.  Though portrayed in quite sexually, they are often not parts of the body generally considered erotic, and the boundaries between male and female are blurred as it is not always possible to tell which body is which.

Spike Dennis has also explored gender themes through a series of images called humanimals.  His merging of male, female and animal characters means the result is an interesting exploration of the bestial nature of human sexuality.  The use of Welsh mythological animals such as frogs, wolves and rabbits add an extra dimension to the work.

Iranian artist Diba Mehrabi uses her culture in her art to explore issues of gender and freedom.  Her work, Can I have freedom please?, uses textiles in a moving way to show the plight of many women in the Middle East.

Other featured artists are Lauren Foulkes, Paul Avis, Edel Cronin and Marielle Hogg.

The Exhibition opened on Friday and will run until March 29.

The Off the Wall contemporary art gallery in Llandaff is also showing an exhibition for International Women’s Day, in conjunction with the Women’s Art Association and features more than 20 female artists.

One of the most striking pieces, Girl in red corset by Sue Rowe, is a painting of almost photographic quality and shows a wonderful balance between confident yet awkward female sexuality.

Contemporary art by Emma Coyle

Girl in Red Corset by Sue Rowe

Irish artist, Emma Coyle uses more of a pop art style and her pieces are certainly eye-catching.  Her bright colours and stylised images instantly attract interest.

On Saturday another exhibition opened in Milkwood Gallery in Lochaber Street, Cardiff which presents a group of contemporary women artists working in a diverse range of media, from the traditional to the digital.

The opening night included a performance based on the brownies by Welsh group Ffaf.


International Women’s Day

Yesterday was International Women’s Day and in Cardiff the first ever feminist festival to celebrate was launched with a “join us on the bridge” event in Bute Park.

I wrote this article for the Cardiffian:

The Cardiff Feminist Network is expecting more than 100 women to participate in their Breaking the Waves festival.

This will be the first ever feminist festival to celebrate International Women’s Day in Cardiff, with organisers hoping to make it an annual event.

Though the theme for the day is a celebration of women’s achievements over the last 100 years, the Cardiff group has decided to focus on women and art, and is organising events such as life drawing workshops, craftivism and an exhibition of contemporary women’s art.

Organiser Meg Kissack said: “We want to celebrate the achievements of women, including local artists and musicians.

“We decided to focus on creativity as one of the main themes of the festival as it can be used to explore feminists issues and encourage activism on an everyday level.”

The aim of the festival is also to celebrate the achievements of local feminists. Ms Kissack said: “Not only do we want to celebrate feminist achievements as a whole, we wanted to draw attention to the experiences, opinions and achievements of local feminists.

“We have an oral history evening where many women will speak about their involvement in the feminist movement across a span of decades.
“The festival is an intergenerational event, where we plan to break down the three feminist waves and focus on gender equality. We plan to continue and encourage dialogue between feminists of all ages and ethnicities in Cardiff.”

The festival started today with a “join me on the bridge” event in Bute Park. This event originated in Africa, where women from the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda would meet on a bridge between their countries to stand up for peace and end violence against women.

Today, women gathered on more than 200 bridges worldwide, including 33 venues in the UK.

Candice Black, 26, who was at the event said: “It’s a great privilege to be part of something really big.”

Nina Langrish, 49,  who has been a feminist for 35 years, said: “I was quite active in the 80s but there was very little political activity in the 90s.

Now there has been a re-emergence of interest in feminism, especially from young women, which is really inspirational.”

The main event of the festival will be a conference held this Saturday, which will include an address by leading feminist Catherine Redfern, author of Reclaiming the F Word and a discussion of third-wave feminism.

Look here some of the events going on during the Breaking the Waves festival

Also going on:

  • the Daily Telegraph published some photos of women celebrating from around the world
  • The Guardian published a list of its top 100 women
  • The equality and human rights commission released a report called Who runs Wales? which shows the gender representation in Wales’ governing bodies.

Women’s history month

Mary Ann McCracken, Ulster radical and social reformer

March has been designated as women’s history month and is a chance to celebrate the lives of women all too often forgotten by the history books.

This March will also see the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day on March 8 and there will be lots of events up and down the country to celebrate.

While many people may have heard of women such as Emmeline Pankhurst, Florence Nightingale and Marie Curie there are many other significant women who have not been remembered.

Mary Ann McCracken, an Irish social reformer with close ties to the United Irishmen is just one example of a women who was influential during her lifetime but has now all been eliminated from the history books.

Jospehine Butler, who campaigned for rights of prostitutes in the 19th century, and Mary Anning, who made hugely important fossil discoveries are also not as well recognised as they probably deserve.

Social campaigner Josephine Butler

Fossil hunter Mary Anning

There are some interesting sites profiling women:

  • Just for women’s history month, a blog has been set up to detail events and give further information on women’s history
  • During women’s history month left foot forward are going to be profiling famous women at the weekend
  • Blogger Mairi Gordon looks at some of the lesser known women who have contributed to the history books

If you can think of anyone you think has been unfairly forgotten by history why don’t you leave a comment and tell everyone about it!