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Jan Patience: Women putting art world in the picture

© SYSTEMRooftops in Rome, oil painting, by Carol Moore
Rooftops in Rome, oil painting, by Carol Moore

All over Scotland at any given time, artists group together to exhibit and sell work.

One of these art-run collectives, the Glasgow Society of Women Artists (GSWA), began life as the Glasgow Society of Lady Artists in 1882. Originally formed by a group of eight students from the Glasgow School of Art (GSA), its plan was to meet the innate sexism of the art world head-on.

The first meeting was held in the studio of GSA “headmaster” Robert Greenlees, father of landscape painter Georgina Greenlees, who was also the society’s first president.

The society boasts renowned members such as Jessie M King, Norah Neilson Gray and Mary Armour. Today, with a membership of more than 200, its artists cover a raft of genres; from painting to sculpture, ceramics, textile art, photography, printmaking and jewellery.

Its original aims were: “The study of Art, to be promoted by means of life classes and monthly meetings at which members will be required to exhibit sketches, by an annual exhibition of members’ work.”

That exhibition is still going strong and last weekend, the 2022 edition opened at Lillie Art Gallery in Milngavie. I was given a preview in return for judging four awards. From exquisite silversmithing by Sheana M Stephen to Anne Morrison’s Red Chestnut Pot with its driftwood handle, it was a touchy-feely affair. Every type of genre of painting is on display. I loved Karen Strang’s expressive head of a woman, Judith After Gentileschi, while, on the contemplative side, Lesley Banks’ little painting Bath By Candle Light glowed quietly.

Ann McClintock’s embroidered paintings are also like wee jewels. One in particular, Rock Pools, struck me as a beauty. Its price tag is just £100. Considering the amount of work in this, it is a steal.

The exhibition runs until April 28.


An exhibition of new works created collaboratively and individually by a group of women who met online during lockdown has gone on show at the wonderful Carnegie Library & Galleries in Dunfermline.

Consciously Rising coincides with activities being held in Fife to mark International Women’s Month 2022 and runs until Sunday, May 1.

The works are all anonymous. Subjects covered include childhood, school and education, adolescence, bodies and health, expectations and freedom.