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Department of History of Art


£400,000 grant awarded to Feminist Art Making Histories by AHRC/Irish Research Council.

  • UK PI: Prof Hilary Robinson, Loughborough University
  • Irish Co-PI: Dr Tina Kinsella, Dun Laoghaire Inst of Art Design & Technology, Dublin
  • UK Co-I: Dr Amy Tobin, University of Cambridge
  • UK Co-I: Dr Elspeth Mitchell, currently University of Leeds

Our field of investigation is feminist artists in the UK/Ireland from 1970 on. The mission is to record, curate and archive the oral histories and digitised records of associated ephemera of feminist artists in Ireland and the UK from 1970 to the present day. Housed in perpetuity in the Digital Repository of Ireland, with DOIs for each item, this archive will be an invaluable resource for artists, art students, art and cultural historians, art teachers in schools and HE, educationalists, DH scholars, digital resource developers, academic and museum leadership, curators, museologists, historians of UK/Ireland, cultural policy makers, EDI workers and policy makers.

The heritage and care for art by women is structurally marginalised within Museology, Art History and arts pedagogies. It is not valued by the art market, with just 0-5 works by women in lists of the 100 most expensive per year in recent sales by living artists. Contemporary art textbooks mention few British/Irish feminist artists, and have few British/Irish feminist authors (let alone Irish artists and authors of any gender or political position). Within digitised oral histories, women and feminist artists are marginal (c.f. Sisterhood and After which interviewed one feminist artist or Artists Lives at the British Library which has a small minority of women). Over fifty years history of feminist art in UK/Ireland thus is ‘hidden’ through bias or ignorance.

Necessarily, British/Irish feminist and Irish histories of art work against the grain of established Art History, museology, and related disciplines, which have canons and pedagogies formed overwhelmingly by male scholars in the colonial ethos of the C19th. The collection and preservation of this archive is urgent for the purposes of current and future knowledge generation, but it is also time-critical insofar as a distressing number of feminist artists, art writers, teachers and curators active in the 1960s-1970s have already died. These critical practitioners, their unique and rare perspective on and testimony to feminist art practice, are, for the most part, lost to us in the present day.

Our aim is to discover and preserve what histories we can from those still able to tell them. We aim also to develop appropriate methods to collate and to present this resource. We will place its methods and means of access and interpretation, at the centre of Digital Humanities to benefit artists, historians, curators, museologists, teachers and digital resource developers.

 An Advisory Group will augment our knowledge-base and help shape our ways of working:

  •     Prof Caroline Bassett, Director, Cambridge Digital Humanities, University of Cambridge;
  •     Dr Althea Greenan, Director, Women’s Art Library, Goldsmiths;
  •     Prof Susan Pui San Lok, Director, Decolonising Art Institute, University of the Arts London;
  •     Dr Aileen O’Carroll, Policy Manager, Digital Repository of Ireland and Maynooth University;
  •     Prof Dorothy Price, Editor, Art History, and the Courtauld Art Institute.