9:00am - 4:30pm
Helen Clapcott can't identify with the word 'artist', Mary Mabbutt has said more than once (in jest) "Rembrandt didn't have to put up with this", Sarah Carvell sees the arrival of the occasional cup of tea to her studio as a significant achievement, and Sue Howells describes herself as a housewife who picks up a brush every day.
Painters all, they are four of ten taking part in a new group show at Hale's Gateway Gallery exploring what it is to be a woman in art. It is titled I Also Paint.
The show's name refers to the fact that women's lives are often complex and multi-faceted, balancing their own needs and desires with those of others. Even for women without children, there can be many time-consuming ties and commitments that leave them feeling their work is a postscript rather than the main event.
The exhibition not only showcases a huge diversity of themes, styles and techniques but in presenting these artists' work together, it brings to light a shared groundedness that emanates from all of the work.
The show's strength is that it traverses both those themes recognised as the traditional female realm and those that are definitely not. Whilst Ghislaine Howard has recently been painting subjects including scaffolders and the Manchester Ship Canal, Mary Mabbutt has continued to explore the domestic setting, including chunky knitwear and her kitchen.
In a world where paintings by men command over 50 percent more than works by female artists (2017 University of Luxembourg study) and the highest price paid for a work by a woman is more than ten times lower than the world's most expensive painting (Leonardo da Vinci's Salvator Mundi was bought for $450 million last year) curator and gallery co-owner Susan Eyres thinks there is still good reason to hold an all female group show.
"Some people may find the whole idea of a women's group show problematic," she said, "thinking it lumps us all together in a silo.
"But I would say that unfortunately the playing field is still not level and that in bringing these important painters together under a provocative title, we are making people think about the reality of many female artists' lives.
"I do believe that men often sit and paint whilst the world falls down around their ears, but women usually have to break off and deal with it."
The title of the show incidentally, was inspired by a popular quote from actor/director Amy Lyndon, who said 'Yes I'm a woman…and I also direct'.