To celebrate International Women’s Day we present a selection of prints made at Edinburgh Printmakers by five leading contemporary female artists.
Choose to Challenge includes new work by Maya Holliss and Jenny Pope and is the first opportunity to see works created in Scotland by Norwegian artist Kristin Nordhøy. Holliss explores the relationship between the ocean and the female reproductive body, while Pope’s metaphorical ‘tools’ look at the intangible mental process of handling change and uncertainty – particularly relevant in today’s uncertain times. Nordhøy meanwhile pushed the boundaries of her artistic practice by working within a new medium, translating her drawings into print for the first time.
These new works are complemented by highlights from our archive including a vibrant and confrontational series by Ruth Ewan, herself a longstanding spokesperson for gender equality in the arts, and a highly collectible series of lithographs by celebrated Scottish painter Moyna Flannigan tackling toxic female stereotypes.
The prints on display are the result of artists’ residencies and collaboration at Edinburgh Printmakers over the years, which have allowed artists to explore new imagery in their practice and harness the power of printmaking for social justice.
Although great progress has been made in championing women and other minority groups in the art world in recent years, there is still a long way to go to achieve equality in the industry. Today, less than 14% of living artists represented by galleries in Europe and North America are women, and only 4% of art sales at auction between 2008 to 2019 accounted for work made by women (artnet News).
Our Viewing Rooms are part of EP’s response to the COVID pandemic, supporting our community of artists by providing a new platform to present their work and make it easy and accessible to purchase original artworks. All prints featured in this show can also be purchased with an interest free loan from Own Art.
From Ruth Ewan’s striking statement in Principles, to Moyna Flannigan’s subversive Femme Fatales with their dangerous allure and poisonous plant names, we hope this collection plays its part in raising the profile of women artists working in Scotland.
People are inherently ‘doers’ and these tools are an attempt to do something when actually the process of change sometimes requires more of a ‘being with’.
Jenny Pope was selected as the recipient of the EP Publishing Award at the Society of Scottish Artists annual exhibition. The award offers the opportunity to produce a limited-edition print project at Edinburgh Printmakers with assistance from one of the studio master-printers. These prints are based on the sculptural works exhibited there.
Jenny’s current work is a collection of objects exploring psychological change. She combines old objects, with layers of meaning and past uses, as a metaphor for the layers of past experiences and influences that have shaped us as people. The tools have both a handheld part, a connection with the body, and a business end; to cut, measure, form, gather, press, pull, comb or scrape. People are inherently ‘doers’ and these tools are an attempt to do something when actually the process of change sometimes requires more of a ‘being with’.
Jenny Pope has a BA in Ceramics and an MA in Sculpture from Edinburgh College of Art. She exhibits in the UK and has won professional development awards. She is a professional member of SSA and VAS and is elected to the Royal British Society of Sculptors, in London. Recently she has worked on Creative Scotland funded residencies with Art Walk Projects, exhibited with 2 other artists in ’Tools for Survival’ and had a solo show at Upright Gallery, Edinburgh. Currently researching kinetic movement of her sculptures funded by a VACMA bursary.
She divides her time between practicing artist and mental health and wellbeing work and is currently a Life Coach and mentor.
Ruth Ewan, Principles (Edward & Christopher), 2012£ 180.00
Ruth Ewan, Ice Cream (Sean), 2012£ 120.00
RUTH EWAN, MIST (LEWIS & MARY), 2012
Mist (Lewis & Mary) was commissioned by Edinburgh Printmakers in 2011 for ‘The Writing on Your Wall’, an exhibition looking at printmaking as a socially concerned, democratic media designed to disseminate radical ideas.
In her autobiography, No Sae Lang Syne, activist, writer, poet and song-writer Mary Brooksbank (1897-1978) quotes from Lewis Grassic Gibbons’ 1932 novel Sunset Song; ‘let us believe that the new oppressions and foolish greeds are no more than mists that pass’. Mary explains the profound impact the novel has had on her and sums up her hopeful outlook towards society. Printed using Woodblock Type (Broughton).
“We like to think that the art world is a very equal place but when you look at it very closely and you look at [...] the big Dons of the art world, the majority are men. And until they are not then there need to be prizes, exhibitions and curators who are championing women’s work.”
Ruth Ewan speaking in 2015 after being shortlisted for the Max Mara Art Prize for Women.
You can support many of the artists featured here with Own Art, spreading your payments across a longer period. So Ruth Ewan, Mist (Lewis & Mary), could be yours for just ten monthly payments of £12 over 10 months interest free.
MAYA HOLLISS, Pleione, 2020
Navigating the use and misuse of traditional photographic and printmaking techniques, Holliss' practice explores the cyclical tides of the female reproductive body, in relation to elemental bodies of water in the natural landscape.
Pleione is a meditation on our amniotic origins; this work explores concepts around the sonographic charting of the sea, whilst also delving into the oceanic landscapes within the reproductive body.
KRISTIN NORDHøY, V, 2019
This woodcut is the fifth in a series of prints running parallel to Nordhøy’s set of drawings, Inverted. In her drawings the lines are indented into the paper and then filled with charcoal – an approach which naturally lends itself to printmaking. The final print reveals a subtle rhythm of lines and spaces characteristic of Norhøy’s practice. When viewed closely the works show the wood grain contrasting with the more formal geometry and intersecting lines of her drawn compositions.
In the studio her drawings were scanned and then laser-cut onto woodblock, with the studio team supporting Nordhoy to explore the possibilities of this new medium. This block was the first work created on the new laser cutter when Edinburgh Printmakers moved to Castle Mills in 2019.
Moyna Flannigan, Belladonna, 2000
The women in Flannigan’s Femme Fatales are portraits created from the artist's imagination. Rather than depicting individuals, they represent toxic stereotypes of women and each portrait is named after a poisonous plant: belladonna (commonly known as deadly nightshade), foxglove, scarlet pimpernel, anemone and lily.
Flannigan’s work is often dark and ironic, and draws on the past to represent fictional women in a modern context. She challenges the way in which woman have traditionally been represented in art – often nude, from a male viewpoint, and for a male audience. In Flannigan’s portraits the costumes form a key part of each woman’s identity, revealing the influence of film, fashion and popular culture on her work.
“I would say that I am very consciously trying to challenge stereotypes of female representation in painting.”
Moyna Flannigan, 2014, speaking about her work for GENERATION: 25 Years of Contemporary Art in Scotland.