I am not sure if I am alone in this but so often when an opportunity comes along I see the difficulties rather than the opportunities.
When the opportunity arose a few months ago to take part in the forthcoming Leeds Art Book Fair I hesitated, what would I make? what could I make? could I make anything!
The weekend its running is awkward, I have a lot of other stuff to do etc etc ………….
Thankfully the opportunity to work with a great group of fellow students/artists under the guidance of an inspirational tutor, supported by Sheffield Hallam proved too much of a lure. Its an opportunity that might not come my way again and I really am grateful to add the experience to my growing list of things I never thought I would do.
It has also allowed me to create a work that I might never have done otherwise and in the process to learn a lot. Submissions were called for with the themes of “archive and office, stationery and document, marginalia and cataloguing, and accumulations and inventories”. I didn’t want to stray far away from my practice and pretty quickly I began to think about lists of people whose achievements were, generally speaking, passed over.
A question that I remember often being used when I was growing up kept going round in my head
If women are as good as men why aren’t there any great female artists/scientists/explorers/mathematicians etc – you get my drift.
I had sort of just accepted it as a truth. I mean I know now there are many great women leading every possible sphere of endeavour, but in the past they had so much to overcome, they had less rights, less access to education and training. Any achievement would first mean surmounting so many obstacles that it would be understandable if they couldn’t.
I decided to look, setting the parameters that their achievements should be primarily pre twenty first century and that they should not be generally well known by the public ( someone without a specific interest in their area).
I knew I would find some, indeed I already knew of a few, what I wasn’t prepared for was how many I would find, the breadth of subjects that women have always excelled in and how far back into history I was able to go.
I had set myself the task of finding one hundred women but let me say now that for each one I have included I omitted five or more.
What I did find spanning two thousand years were women who were successful, ground breaking, innovative and breathtakingly brave. Artists, inventors, doctors, scientists, soldiers, spies, explorers, and campaigners. Who lived and fought for their work, who fought and died for their beliefs, or who just perhaps stood up for their beliefs when others wouldn’t at a particular moment in time. Women who were overlooked or who found success but have been forgotten by history or women who perhaps we should just take a moment to remember.
One Hundred Women
Contained within a hand made notebook reminiscent of the traditional school exercise book.
A list of one hundred names, written in pencil, an inventory, a remembrance, an acknowledgement.
Finding outstanding women wasn’t difficult, choosing which ones to use was.
Hope to see you there