A journey to freedom of expression

It's International women's day, so what better excuse to focus on the contribution women have made to art. Our first female exhibitor Lee Kellgren has journeyed from a career in computer graphics, through motherhood, returning to undertake a degree in art later in life and restarting her life as a printmaker and painter. Our subsequent exhibitors, Linda Matthews, Nicola Moseley, Corinne Detain and Ella Carty, have also taken unique journeys into making their mark from their dedicated studio spaces.

For years women have been represented as a subject rather than the creative force behind the artwork. Having the time, money and social freedom to be an artist has become easier as the generations have progressed and are, at last, changing the balance of influence on the timeline of art history.

Unfortunately, in the museums and galleries around the world, the old masters still dominate the walls of the most famous institutions. But there is hope. As more women take over important curatorial roles in leading art galleries and museums, the imbalance is starting to be addressed, and more solo shows by female artists are now being scheduled into museum timetables.

In Falmouth and Penryn, we are lucky enough to have a legacy of strong women who promoted the arts to make it an acceptable career. The rising middle-class Quaker sisters Anna Maria and Caroline Fox were responsible for creating what came to be known as the Royal Cornwall Polytechnic Society. Now a centre for the arts, the Poly was partially designed to offer educational opportunities and exhibitions of the arts & sciences to the working people of Cornwall. It was a place to meet and share expertise in art practices.

Anna Maria lived unusually for her times. She was an artist and a global traveller. Much like the Bronte sisters, who were also of this age, Anna Maria's legacy as the founder of the UK's first adult learning establishment is still noticeable in Falmouth. The art classes she organised at the Poly in 1833 were the educational precursor to the development of Falmouth School of Art.

Under the name Polytechnic Society (RCPS) art classes continued until dedicated private art school premises in Arwenack Avenue were opened n August 1902. On offer in this establishment was the opportunity to take part in Freehand Drawing, Model Drawing, Painting from Still Life, Drawing from the Antique, Drawing of Plant Form, Drawing in Light & Shade, and from memory. It wasn't cheap at four and ten shillings per session, but it was an opportunity to gain a qualification supported by the Board of Education. Tacita Dean, Jessica Warboys, Kate Holford, Susanna Heron and Judith Kerr are just a few of the inspirational women artists who have benefited from those humble beginners and trained at the Art School, which is now part of Falmouth University.

Although a change in the art world is gaining momentum, a high percentage of galleries represent more men than women. Thankfully the Terrace Gallery is amongst the five per cent of galleries who have achieved an equal parity of male and female artists. And we will do our best to ensure it remains this way.

Related anna maria fox art gallery art history artist artists Arwenack Avenue Bronte sisters caroline fox contemporary art Drawing from the Antique Drawing in Light & Shade Drawing of Plant Form Ella Carty exhibition space Falmouth Polytechnic falmouth school of art Falmouth University Freehand Drawing international womans day Jessica Warboys Judith Kerr Kate Holford Lee kellgren Linda Matthews Model Drawing Nicola Moseley Painting from Still Life Polytechnic Society (RCPS) art classes quakers

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