The Circle

26 October 2019 - 23 February 2020

The Circle features prominent women artists who are linked together within a wider web of relations, working across the late nineteenth and mid-twentieth centuries. Drawing from the collection of both the Dunedin Public Art Gallery and Hocken Collections Uare Taoka o Hākena, this exhibition provides a view into a network of women artists working alongside, and in parallel to, Frances Hodgkins, both in Aotearoa and internationally. Artists such as Dorothy Kate Richmond, Grace Joel, Margaret Butler and Frances Hodgkins met overseas after they had left Aotearoa; forming a shifting circle of expatriate artists. Other artists in this exhibition, including A. Lois White, Annie Elizabeth Kelly and Grete Graetzer, represent those that remained in Aotearoa, forging their own networks and connections. 

Uniting The Circle across these divisions of time and space is a considered reflection on women’s bodies as a subject matter for women artists. In 1971, Linda Nochlin wrote the germinal text Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists? Nochlin critiques the institutional structures that have historically prevented women artists from achieving the same level of recognition as their male counterparts. However, when we turn to Aotearoa, we might well ask: Why Have There Been So Many Great Women Artists? This exhibition pauses to reflect on a small selection of the great women artists held in two of Dunedin’s major art collections.

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