Wel­come to the ACADEMY

With more than 350 art­works on show at the South West Academy’s open show it’s hard to know where to start - we head to a room set aside for fe­male artists in­spired by this year’s cen­te­nary of votes for women, writes arts edi­tor Carol Burns

Devon Life - - Arts -

MAR­GARET, AGED 96

In the arts world as with the rest of the globe, women haven’t al­ways been at the fore­front. While male artists make up most of the top sell­ers and take up more of the ex­hi­bi­tion space, fe­male artists are likely to be ig­nored or dis­cov­ered at the end of their ca­reers; don’t just be­lieve my fem­i­nist di­a­tribe - ev­ery artist in the top 100 auc­tion sales last year was a man, and just eight per cent of pub­lic art in cen­tral Lon­don was cre­ated by women.

So what bet­ter time to fo­cus on fe­male artists than 2018? It’s the cen­te­nary of the Rep­re­sen­ta­tion of the Peo­ple Act, which first gave some* women the vote (and all men over 21). The South West Academy Show at Ex­eter Cas­tle cel­e­brates this land­mark with one room ded­i­cated to the cen­te­nary and fe­male artist’s re­sponse to it.

The South West Academy is al­ways a by­word for qual­ity art­works work­ing in fine and ap­plied arts so you can be as­sured of find­ing some­thing you love some­where in the ex­hi­bi­tion.

Work on show in­cludes that of its core mem­ber­ship: the aca­demi­cians who are out­stand­ing prac­ti­tion­ers of fine and ap­plied arts with var­ied prac­tices, back­grounds and styles. But the show also fea­tures en­tries from the gen­eral pub­lic. The price tag is equally var­ied – works be­gin at around £200 and go up to around £6,000-£7,000.

Here are just of the works on show the cas­tle’s ball­room this month. June Arnold SWAC chose to fo­cus on Mar­garet Smith (1913-2015) who stud­ied maths at Univer­sity of Lon­don (be­fore women were al­lowed to have a de­gree) and be­came a so­cial­ist, rad­i­cal and en­vi­ron­men­tal­ist. “Post-war she and her hus­band aban­doned Lon­don to try their luck at farm­ing in Devon. Per­haps she had been in­flu­enced by Olive Hock­ing’s year as a Land Girl in Devon. I first painted her when she was 96, still ac­tive in her gar­den and in the com­mu­nity. Then again aged 102 when she be­came sad at the loss of in­de­pen­dence and love of life.”

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