Sydney Ladies Artists Club

A social and support organisation for invited female artists based in Sydney.

Sunday, May 07, 2006



Someone called ‘Lady Penelope’ left this question in the comments somewhere on the SLAC blog – strangely, I can’t find it when I look on the site, but it did arrive in my inbox.

This is a difficult question to answer – if you look at the description of the club at the top of the blog page, you’ll see it’s ‘A social and support organisation for invited female artists based in Sydney’. When we set the club up, S Goffman and I simply ran through the female artists we knew in common, and in a sort of hurried and top-of-mind way listed them and invited them to join. Most accepted the invitation; a few didn’t. Then I think we might have added one or two members subsequently.

I thought of this club as something that couldn’t just be open to everyone that came along, mostly for reasons of simplicity of organisation (there's a bit of work involved getting everyone organised and on the blog, keeping them in the loop, etc), but also because I think of the club as a kind of real-life art performance, in a way; it’s like a group show that exists over time, and when you invite artists to participate in a group show, it’s normal to have to limit those numbers.

Another more practical reason to limit the number of members in the group is that many of the activities are held in members’ homes, which aren’t normally huge venues. So far this hasn’t been a problem, and the number of chairs available and the size of the room seem to just accommodate the number of ladies that turn up to each event.

However, the idea of making the club exclusive is not a particularly attractive one – the art world has enough exclusivity (or perceived exclusivity) going on within it as it is, without adding another whole new club to which only a few people can belong. The unfortunate use of the word ‘club’ in the group’s title I think also contributes to this sense of exclusivity (it’s only really there so that the acronym spelt out ‘SLAC’ – this was important to me).

I suppose the short answer to this question is, ‘you can’t’; that is, no one else can become a member of the club. That being said, however, I have been considering putting it to the ladies that we have a member drive sometime, where each existing member can invite one more lady to join – not because we need more members, but because it may provide some of the ladies with a friend to attend the events with, making the club more comfortable and relevant to them. Also, some members are less active than others, so there may be some room for more...


Blogger L.Kelly said...

Given that we settled on using the word 'club' I reckon it's our responsibility (our Lady duty?) to stretch and explore the convention! I always took it as a kind of ironic construct, and something that we would mess around with. I think the boundary lines of inclusion and exclusion are really interesting in a group like SLAC. It's embodied right there in the name, a group that literally thousands might be a member of. A tension we can play on. Likewise whether men are invited to participate in our events. I really like that in the end it doesn't boil down to any 'club rules' but the choice & intention of the particular member coordinating any given event. So there's really heaps of scope for differing levels of scale and participation...

The idea of SLAC as a kind of performative, unfolding group exhibition is wonderful, and I'm all for the member drive! There's so many Sydney Lady Artists to meet out there...

10:13 pm  

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