A Public Art Event Puts Australia’s Female Artists In The Limelight

The best way to highlight the work and careers of underrepresented artists is to put their names – quite literally – up in lights. The National Gallery of Australia is doing this on a spectacular scale with Know My Name, a national public art event on billboards and digital signs, that will see 1,500 locations across the country emblazoned with the works of 45 female-identifying Australian artists from the gallery’s collection.

View their work, see their names and know their art – this public art display is more than just a national outdoor art exhibition, it’s also a call to action!

Sasha Gattermayr
This Story is Supported by the National Gallery of Australia

Sally Smart’s name and work up in lights! Artwork –Imaginary anatomy #7 March 1995, monotype and stencil, printed in colour inks, from one plate; collage additions of cut paper, printed fabric and tape, 134.5 h x 60.5 w cm, Australian Print Workshop Archive 2, purchased with the assistance of the Gordon Darling Australasian Print Fund 2002, © Courtesy of the artist

Artwork – Interior in yellow by Grace Cossington Smith. 1962-64, oil on composition board, 121.7 h x 90.2 w cm, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra. Purchased 1965.

Artwork – Arlatyeye by Emily Kame Kngwarreye (Anmatyerr people) c. 1995, synthetic polymer paint on canvas canvas, 121.0 h x 91.0 w cm, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, Bequest of the late Warwick Flecknoe and the late Jane Flecknoe 2018, © Emily Kame Kngwarreye/Copyright Agency.

Artwork – Psychogeography by Patricia Piccinini, 1996, colour photograph, 20.5 h x 259.1 w cm. Purchased with Funds from the Moet & Chandon Australian Art Foundation.© Patricia Piccinini.

Artwork – Self-portrait by Nora Heysen, 1932, oil on canvas, 76.0 h x 64.0 w cm, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, Masterpieces for the Nation Fund 2011.

Artwork – Ocean man by Polixeni Papapetrou. 2013, pigment inkjet print, 120.0 h x 120.0 w cm, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra. Purchased 2016.

A billboard on Lonsdale and Swanston Streets, Melbourne.

Artwork – Outside Dibirdibi by Mirdidingkingathi Juwarnda Sally Gabori (Kaiadilt people). 2008, synthetic polymer paint on canvas, 196.0 h x 608.0 w cm, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra. Acquired with the Founding Donors 2009 Fund, © Mirdidingkingathi Juwarnda (Sally Gabori)/Copyright Agency.

Sasha Gattermayr
24th of February 2020

You may have already noticed the billboards featuring a piece of art and a name you’ve never seen before materialise this morning. Maybe it was at your local shopping centre? Or bus shelter? You may not have noticed that they’re all around the country – from Darwin to Toowoomba – taking over retail spaces, airports and busy intersections, to spruik the names and works of just some of Australia’s female artists.

From heavyweights Del Kathryn Barton and Tracey Moffat to lesser known names like Nonggirrnga Marawili and Cherine Fahd, this billboard takeover is a chance for everyday Australians to get to know 76 different artworks by female-identifying visual artists from our national collection. oOh! media have offered their billboards nation-wide in support of the National Gallery of Australia’s #KnowMyName initiative, which is part of a global effort to increase the visibility of women artists and push their work into the public consciousness.

‘Recognising and celebrating the work of women artists is the first step in addressing gender equity,’ says Sally Smart, an artist whose work will be featured in the display. ‘And we hope that as many people as possible see their art, hear their stories and know their names.’

It’s a call to action, to understand, appreciate and respect the influence and contributions female artists have made to the country’s cultural fabric. The aim is to insert art into your everyday life, to make it as obvious and proliferate as the advertising we see every single day and recognise these artists for the contribution they and their works have made on Australian life.

From major cities to regional communities, it’s estimated 12 million people will view the works on digital and static platforms across the country, and that’s only the beginning. This 6-week-long public art show is just the first installation in a major and exciting campaign from the National Gallery, whose mission is to diversify their public program and collection and by doing so, lead a progressive and inclusive cultural agenda toward gender equity.

Know My Name joins the network of international organisations dedicated to supporting to gender equity across the arts such as the Sheila Foundation and #5WomenArtists at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, DC.

Learn more about the artists and artworks featured in the national art event here.

From Monday 24 February, view the Know My Name national  art event at more than 1,500 static and digital locations across regional and metropolitan Australia, and learn more about Know My Name here.

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