Talking Point

What does it mean to be a woman in art?

With shifting political landscapes and women's marches happening around the world, how are women artists addressing their rights and identities, in their work and beyond?

Are women represented fairly in the arts?

I don’t feel there’s enough female voices in the arts. There’s a huge gap that can be filled.

Kelly Green

Artist, Fairground, Tate Exchange

According to the National Museum of Women in the Arts, 51 per cent of visual artists today are women. But when it comes to exhibitions and gallery representation, the numbers tell a less optimistic story. In London, for example, 78 per cent of the galleries represent more men than women, while only 5 per cent represent an equal number of male and female artists.

And beyond the statistics, women artists and curators face unique challenges, from the subjects they bring to light to the work they choose to present. As Tate Modern director Frances Morris has said, women have been discriminated against for centuries, and major institutions have typically failed to support the careers of women artists working on the margins. The number of women in the Tate collection is growing, and half the rooms in the Natale Bell Building are currently devoted to a sole female artist, but work remains to be done.

So what can we do to more fairly represent women in the arts? Should we strive for an equal split of men and women artists? Do we rewrite the history books? Or is some other way? Tell us what you think.

What's next for women artists, curators, and practitioners?

My advice to women in the arts today is that it is a changed world. But it really is still a case of pushing and pushing and making opportunities and never being complacent.

Frances Morris, Director of Tate Modern

At 1 February 2017, 27 per cent of living contemporary artists in the Tate Collection are women. The gap has narrowed in more recent years and focused efforts are being made to collect work by women artists. But this is only a start. The next step is to bring more and more diverse voices into the gallery, to seek out women doing challenging and innovative work and those who were neglected by history, and to work torwards greater representation of diverse, non-European women in collections and galleries, at Tate and beyond.

As artist and professor Joan Semmel put it: '...if there are no great celebrated women artists, that's because the powers that be have not been celebrating them, but not because they are not there.' This Women's History Month, celebrate women in art with the #5WomenArtists campaign. Can you name five women artists? Join the conversation on social media, and do your part in bringing the stories of women artists to light.

Trailblazing women artists