10 March 2020

#KnowMyName: Recognising Australian Women in art

| Karyn Starmer
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Know My Name

The National Gallery of Australia’s Outdoor Exhibition Know My Name is currently on display in locations around Canberra including Sally Smart’s Imaginary Anatomy (1995) in the Canberra Centre. Photos: Region Media.

Ask any Australian to name five Australian female artists and chances are they would struggle to name a single one. But Australia has many female artists of significance so it is recognition, or lack thereof, that is the issue.

Naming women artists was recently recognised as a global problem, highlighted through the #5WomenArtists campaign by the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, DC.

Know My Name joins a global movement in response to the problem of poor recognition and gender imbalance. The National Gallery of Australia (NGA) is now on a mission to increase female representation in their collection and help Australians get to know more of their women artists.

A new project, called the Know My Name Outdoor Art Event, is a nationwide event featuring images of works of art by Australian women, in static and digital locations across metropolitan and regional Australia. The NGA hopes these works and names will reach more than 12 million Australians.

The six-week Know My Name national art event will feature images of 76 works of art from the National Gallery of Australia’s collection on more than 1,500 locations across oOh! Media’s billboard, street, retail, office, café, venue and airport networks.

Know My Name’s Program and Campaign Manager Jessi England said the 45 artists featured in the project include Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and non-indigenous artists, historic works from the 1920s through to contemporary works of diverse mediums including painting, photography, printmaking and sculpture.

“Women artists have not been recognised as they should. As the national collecting institution, the NGA should be a leader in the visual arts by encouraging the gender equality conversation,” England said.

“This really is a defining moment in the history of the gallery. Gender equity will now be one of the guiding principles across our institutions.”

England said all the artwork in the outdoor exhibition is part of NGA’s national collection that is regularly homed in Canberra and there are currently several billboards around Canberra displaying the women’s art in major shopping centres, public spaces, cafes, retail and office spaces.

“This is very different from the way most people normally see artists and art. We hope to intrigue, interest and encourage people to find out more about each artist,” England said.

Nonggirrnga Marawili's Baratjala

Artists such as Nonggirrnga Marawili’s Baratjala (2016) are significant in the art world but publicly under recognised.

oOh!media Chief Content and Creative Officer Neil Ackland said oOh!’s network of public advertising spaces was a unique way to take the campaign beyond the walls of the National Gallery.

“The Know My Name campaign will use our network to captivate and educate Australians with these astonishing works of art at significant scale,” he said.

Artist and member of the National Gallery of Australia Council Sally Smart said the collaboration with oOh!media will help strengthen the Know My Name initiative by taking the works of art to people around Australia, from major cities through to regional areas.

“Recognising and celebrating the work of women artists is the first step in addressing inequality and we hope that as many people as possible see their art, hear their stories and know their names,” she said.

Know My Name national outdoor art event exhibiting artists include: Jean Baptiste Apuatimi, Del Kathryn Barton, Dorrit Black, Dora Chapman, Club Ate, Grace Cossington Smith, Olive Cotton, Grace Crowley, Virginia Cuppaidge, Janet Dawson, eX de Medici, Lesley Dumbrell, Cherine Fahd, Anne Ferran, Sue Ford, Agnes Goodsir, Fiona Hall, Melinda Harper, Joy Hester, Nora Heysen, Naomi Hobson, Carol Jerrems, Mabel Juli, Mirdidingkingathi Juwarnda Sally Gabori, Inge King, Emily Kame Kngwarreye, Yvonne Koolmatrie, Rosemary Laing, Nonggirrnga Marawili, Sanné Mestrom, Tracey Moffatt, Ann Newmarch, Margaret Olley, Polixeni Papapetrou, Patricia Piccinini, Margaret Preston, Thea Proctor, Hilda Rix Nicholas, Sally Smart, Ethel Spowers, Robyn Stacey, Judy Watson, Margaret Worth, Nyapanyapa Yunupingu and Anne Zahalka.

To find out more about Know My Name, visit the NGA.


The NGA hopes that large public displays of work by artists such as Melinda Harper’s Untitled (2001) will help Australians get to know their women artists.

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