#MeToo movement and feminism gain momentum in Maitland


Power: Nicole Kidman signs autographs in 2003 when she won acclaim for her portrayal of Virginia Woolf in The Hours. A new wave of feminism continues to gather steam in this era of the #MeToo movement.

Maitland-based artists are doing their part for the cause byforming a feminist art group.

They have a new exhibition, titled Lily Briscoe and Friends.

Deborah Van Heekeren, curator of the exhibition, said Lily Briscoe was not a real person.

“She’s a minor character from Virginia Woolf’s most popular novel,To the Lighthouse,”Van Heekeren said.

“In the novel, artist Lily Briscoe is told by a male character that ‘women can’t paint, women can’t write’, and this dismissive phrase echoes like a refrain throughout the book.”

Van Heekeren saidtheLily Briscoe character was “a tribute to female creativity and tenacity”.

“Despite being told that it was impossible, Lily Briscoe continued to pursue a creative career and immersed herself in her painting,” she said.

The exhibition’s name was chosen to reflect some of the challenges faced by female artists.

“We’re all mature artists.We’ve all experienced certain kinds of sexism,”Van Heekeren said.

She said the aim of the group was “to support each otherand create a network in Maitland for contemporary art”.

The group is committed to creating contemporary art that challenges gender stereotypes, blurs the line between the domestic and the mythologicaland looks for heroism in everyday experiences

The artists in the group are Sue and Sinead Cone, Paul Durell, Helen Hopcroft, Jenni Nichols, Alex Rennie, along withVan Heekeren.

The exhibition isbeing held atBrough House – a National Trust property in Maitland –from 10am to 3pm on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays until April 22.

Ancient FeminismSpeaking of feminism, a University of Newcastle professor has been writing about women being “told to shut up”.

Professor of Classics Marguerite Johnson wrote onThe Conversation websiteabout Professor Mary Beard’s latest book, Women & Power: A Manifesto.

Professor Johnson said the book was “a short, sharp analysis of women in the West and their ongoing struggles for a voice in the public domain”.

“Beard chronicles some of the major obstacles women continue to face, framing her analysis through the lens of the legacies of ancient Greece and Rome.

“Beard provides some examples from antiquity to illustrate the social and gender dynamics inherited in the West. In short, she traces the long heritage of women being told to shut up.”

Examples of women beingsilenced go back to the “Homeric epics”.

Shequotes Beard as writing: “Right where written evidence for Western culture starts, women’s voices are not being heard in the public sphere”.

“It may seem incredible that some 2500 years since the Homeric epics, women are still silenced in public,” the professor wrote.

She saidthe myths of ancientGreece remainrelevant to “modern reality”.

She gives the example ofTony Abbott tellingRay Hadley on 2GB in 2017 that ’s Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins should “pull her head in”.

“Pull your head inmeans, essentially, shut up and mind your own business.”

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