Borrowed Scenery

The voices, stories and experiences of women as makers of culture, rather than as model, muse and subject of art made by men is the focus of Campbelltown Arts Centre’s (CAC) first exhibition for 2019, ‘Borrowed Scenery’. Works by over 50 female artists drawn from their collection including high profile practitioners Tracey Moffatt, Bronwyn Oliver, Archibald Prize winner Fiona Lowry, Joan Ross, Katthy Cavaliere, Pat Larter and Rosalie Gascoigne are on show.

Borrowed Scenery, installation view, Campbelltown Arts Centre, 2019. Photograph: Document Photography

Jasmine Kean, CAC Collections Officer and curator of the exhibition, says ‘it is important to address the traditional and systemically patriarchal methods of forming and growing a collection and those systems we default to and that underpin contemporary arts museums practices. By exposing these practices we can try to change the way we approach the development of tomorrows collections.’

Borrowed Scenery, installation view, Campbelltown Arts Centre, 2019. Photograph: Document Photography

For over a decade the CoUNTess Report, founded by artist Elvis Richardson, has published statistics and data on gender representation in the Australian art world. CoUNTess ‘uses statistics about unequal gender representation to question how notions of quality and taste apply in determining artistic merit and success.’

As part of ‘Borrowed Scenery’, the CoUNTess Report has been commissioned to audit the permanent art collection of Campbelltown City Council. This work aims to address the institutional accountability for gender equity within contemporary arts with action and focus. The CoUNTess Report was interested in not only ‘auditing’ CAC’s collection but problematising the relationship between data, power, gender and art. Selected statistics on the value, dimensions and proportion of women artists in the CAC collection are listed in the We are not consultants work, along with excerpts from Campbelltown City Council’s asset management policies and valuation statements written by experts contracted to prove the monetary value of artworks in the collection. The work makes porous the seemingly impenetrable and deeply inequitable processes of quantification, commodification and validation that characterise museum collections and the art world more broadly.

Borrowed Scenery, installation view, Campbelltown Arts Centre, 2019. Photograph: Document Photography

Campbelltown City Council has amassed an art collection of 1481 works of art. Of these 576, or 39.8% have been made by women. 247 drawings, 109 paintings, 106 sculptures, 62 works on paper, 11 photographs and 6 videos in the CAC collection were made by women.

0% of artists in the CAC collection identified as non-binary.
Of the 109 Indigenous artists in the collection 52% are women.
Of the 102 artworks acquired for the collection via the Fisher’s Ghost Art Award, 30% were made by women.

Of the 576 works made by women, 55% have been valued at below $1,000. 355 works donated by private individuals were made by women. The total monetary value of art made by women in the CAC collection is $1,135,994. Valuers contracted by CAC to assign monetary value to individual works in the collection note that if an artist is not represented by a commercial gallery and there are no recent sales by the artist to determine a current market value for work from an artist, then value is difficult to determine. The CAC collects works from artists producing art with an international relevance and importance that is influential on younger artists. The Community Strategic Plan cited in the 10 year Asset Management Strategy Plan states that public funds and assets are managed strategically, transparently and efficiently.

Borrowed Scenery, installation view, Campbelltown Arts Centre, 2019. Photograph: Document Photography

The CoUNTess work highlights the importance of cultural space, money, relevance, time, attention and that historically women have been systematically excluded from civic realms including public galleries and museums.

Since opening in 2005, Campbelltown Arts Centre has built an enviable reputation for presenting a dynamic and responsive program of exhibitions and newly commissioned works from leading artists that engage the local community with the critical issues of our times. In Australia, female artists earn 30% less than our male counterparts. Art made by women is not valued (exhibited, promoted, collected, funded, awarded, publicized, preserved), commensurate to art made by men. ‘Borrowed Scenery’ confronts gender and how and why it remains a key determinant in an artist’s success and the responsibility institutions have in shifting this issue rather than perpetuating gendered outcomes.

Campbelltown Arts Centre
2 January to 10 March, 2019
Sydney