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National Gallery of Victoria launches publication with 34 perspectives on works in the NGV collection
Destiny Deacon, Smile, 2017. National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne. Purchased with funds donated by D’Lan Davidson and NGV Supporters of Indigenous Art, 2018 © Destiny Deacon/Licensed by Copyright Agency, Australia.

MELBOURNE.- The National Gallery of Victoria has launched She Persists, a publication featuring 34 perspectives exploring the intersections of art, gender and protest, focusing on artists whose influential works are housed in the NGV Collection.

Featuring essays and intervie­ws by local and international scholars and cultural commentators, She Persists takes on five themes – ambition, perseverance, activism, feminism and identity – in a cross-cultural exploration of women’s contribution to art and design history from the 17th to the 21st century.

With over 140 works of art and design reproduced throughout the publication, She Persists includes NGV Collection works by Maree Clarke (Australia), Sonia Delaunay (Ukraine/France), Guerrilla Girls (USA), Agnes Goodsir (Australia), Alexandra Kehayoglou (Argentina), and Fumie Taniguchi (Japan).

Inspired by the principle of persistence, the publication examines the day-to-day determination required by these pioneering art and design practitioners, unveiling their formidable ambition and creativity as well as their expressions of activism.

“The NGV is dedicated to sharing new knowledge and the stories of historically under-represented artists and designers,” said Tony Ellwood AM, Director, National Gallery of Victoria. “Through the publication of She Persists, the Gallery hopes to engage openly in dialogue across the global museum sector regarding the shared commitment to prioritising the collecting of historic and contemporary works by women in art and design.”

There have been numerous monographs published on the history of women in art and design alongside more gender focused art-historical surveys. She Persists takes a different approach by providing 34 perspectives on pivotal moments in – and key contributions to – the field of art and design by women, all drawn from the NGV Collection, with highlights including:

• Fashioning Identity: Madeline Green, Gwen John and Claude Cahun, an essay by NGV assistant curator and historian Dr Maria Quirk revealing how three artists played with notions of gender and representation during the early 20th century;

• Divergent Ambitions: The Door of Hope Mission in Early Twentieth-Century Shanghai, an essay by NGV assistant curator Annika Aitken exploring the social and cultural impact of dolls hand-crafted by Christian missionaries in China;

• Indigenous Voices of Creative Assertion and Resistance, an essay by NGV senior curator Judith Ryan AM demonstrating how the Western Desert art movement was re-shaped by the Northern Territory’s Lajamanu women of Gurindji Country;

• Rediscovering Fumie Taniguchu, an essay by Japan-based curator Chiho Sumida about the life of a trail-blazing Japanese artist, whose burgeoning career was cut short during World War II;

• Women of Industry: Frances Burke and Joyce Coffey, an essay by Australian curator and academic Professor Harriet Edquist reflecting on the work of two leading mid-century industrial designers;

• Selling Suffrage: Visual Culture and Merchandise, an essay by England-based historian Dr Zoë Thomas exploring the role artists played in advancing women’s right to vote;

• You Can Lead a Cow To Water But You Could Make Us Extinct, an essay by Amsterdam-based design writer, curator and educator Tamar Shafrir examining the intersections between the works of Australian artist Mylene Holroyd and Argentinian artist Alexandra Kehayoglou;

• Voice without Words: Pushpa Kumari and Jaba Chitrakar, an essay by India-based writer, curator and educator Minhazz Majumdar discussing the works of two artists that have made powerful statements about the role of women in Indian society;

• The Long Haul: Women’s Art Archives, an essay by visual artist, researcher, independent curator and secretary of the Women’s Art Register, Dr Caroline Phillips, highlighting the importance of promoting the existence of women’s art archives and in the process redressing history;

• Protest in Fashion, an essay by NGV curator Paola Di Trocchio reflecting on how the art of protest has been harnessed by the fashion industry, including labels such as Dior and Prada, to support a feminist agenda;

• She Is Like No Other: A Call and Response to Umma (Mother) Sovereign, an essay by curator and Yorta Yorta woman Kimberley Moulton (Yorta Yorta) reflecting on Wakka Wakka and Yaegel woman Hannah Brontë and her intersectional feminist approach to art;

• Aboriginal Feminism and Gender, an essay by author and Noongar woman Claire G. Coleman discussing the importance of art made by people of colour, the queer, and the gender diverse;

• Listening to the Voices of our Ancestors, a personal essay by NGV curator Myles Russell-Cook highlighting how Indigenous Australians have persisted in telling their stories despite White people’s attempts to silence them.

She Persists is edited by Annika Aitken, Dr Isobel Crombie, Megan Patty, Dr Maria Quirk and Myles Russell-Cook. The publication design is a unique collaborative effort between designers Public Office (Melbourne) and Karina Soraya (NGV), and typographer Jungmyung Lee (Netherlands).

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