In celebration of its 21st anniversary Glasgow Women’s Library will launch an exhibition entitled ‘21 Revolutions: Two Decades of Changing Minds at Glasgow Women’s Library’ at the Intermedia Gallery, Centre for Contemporary Art, Glasgow on 21st September 2012.
This exhibition heralds an unprecedented showcasing of women artists’ work past and present in Scotland. Glasgow School of Art currently has a major survey show of the post ‘Glasgow Girls’ generation of women artists (1920- present day) and Paisley Museum and Art Gallery is showcasing the original ‘Girls’ along with a new show by Sharon Thomas that celebrates Scottish female figures of note. Now, Glasgow Women’s Library, the only resource of its kind in Scotland, has specially commissioned 21 of Scotland’s most exciting women artists to each create new limited edition fine art prints inspired by items and artefacts in its library, archive and museum collections.
These new works draw on sources including campaign badges, knitting patterns, Suffragette memorabilia, album covers, recipe books, feminist newsletters and a myriad of books from the GWL shelves. A selection of these objects will also be displayed in the CCA exhibition along with the prints.
Among those exhibiting in ‘21 Revolutions’ are internationally renowned artist Claire Barclay, who has shown work in Tate Britain and represented Scotland in the prestigious Venice Biennale, and two recent Turner Prize nominees, Karla Black and Lucy Skaer.
To raise funds to support the Women’s Library’s ongoing work, the exclusively commissioned prints – limited to an edition of only 20 each – will be available to buy from the CCA exhibition and from GWL’s website.
As part of the overall ‘Two Decades of Changing Minds’ programme, supported by Creative Scotland and Museums Galleries Scotland, GWL also commissioned 21 high-profile and emerging women writers to create new short stories or poems similarly inspired by its collections. Acclaimed authors including Louise Welsh, Liz Lochhead, Denise Mina, Muriel Gray, Jackie Kay and A. L. Kennedy have produced new texts that will be launched at reading events as part of the Women’s Library’s ongoing Lifelong Learning programme and through a series of downloadable podcasts from September 2012.
The importance of GWL’s collection was recognised last year when the Library gained Full Accreditation as a Museum. The sole resource of its kind in Scotland, GWL has amassed a significant collection of historical and contemporary artefacts and archive materials celebrating the lives, histories and achievements of women in Scotland. The collection encompasses rare pieces from the Suffragette movement, 1930s dress making patterns and important newsletters and documents from the Second-Wave Feminist Movement, as well as housing the UK’s National Lesbian archives. GWL also provides a range of innovative lifelong learning programmes supporting thousands of women across Scotland every year, including several dedicated projects targeted at engaging women who feel remote from cultural and learning establishments.
Co-founder of Glasgow Women’s Library, Dr Adele Patrick, who is now the Library’s Lifelong Learning and Creative Development Manager, said, ‘Throughout its history the Women’s Library has promoted and worked with a range of local, national and international women artists, writers and performers. We are really excited about this 21st anniversary programme, which will celebrate the richness of our collections, while using them as a catalyst for new work from established and up and coming contemporary women artists and writers.’
Reflecting on the Library’s history Dr Patrick stated, ‘It’s changed days since our birth as a grassroots organisation, staffed entirely by volunteers. I well remember a small group of us setting up in a small, freezing space in Hill Street, Garnethill, inspired by the idea of a place dedicated to celebrating the richness of women’s culture in Glasgow and Scotland. The damp, inaccessible conditions weren’t promising and it would be several years before the Library appointed its first employee and several more before it was able to recruit a Librarian thanks to support from Glasgow City Council, but despite all the challenges the Library has thrived. Now we have 14 paid members of staff and seven major projects, we have expanded our work across Scotland and are a fully Accredited Museum. The next step for us is to work towards further accreditation to become Scotland’s recognised and re-named national women’s library, museum and archive.’
Gallery tours of the ‘21 Revolutions’ exhibition will take place with artists and the GWL Archivists on Saturday 29th September at 2pm and Saturday 6th October at 2pm at the CCA.
Readings of work commissioned from the writers will take place on Wednesday 26th September, 6.30pm – 8pm; Wednesday 3rd October, 6.30pm – 8pm; and Saturday 13th October, 4pm – 5.30pm at the CCA.
Other associated events in the GWL ‘Two Decades of Changing Minds’ programme include an exhibition ‘The Revolution on Roller Skates’, showcasing the input of artist Ellie Harrison into the project – Saturday 22nd September, 2 – 4pm. at Glasgow Women’s Library and a guided Women’s Heritage Walk of Garnethill on Sunday 23rd September, 2pm