The National Gallery of Australia has followed in the footsteps of other major cultural institutions around the world in launching its #KnowMyName campaign, a call for equal power, respect and recognition for women artists. Harnessing social media as well exhibitions, research and creative collaborations, the Gallery seeks to recognise and celebrate Australian women artists in a bid to shine a light on their continued lack of representation.

T-shirts created for the National Gallery of Australia’s #KnowMyName campaign

The #KnowMyName campaign has its antecedents in work undertaken by Washington’s National Museum for Women in the Arts, which since 2016 has asked members of the public on social media to name five women artists, calling attention to their ongoing marginalisation. The NGA has launched its own campaign by asking the public to share stories of female creators on social media with the hashtag #knowmyname and with Art Girl Rising has created a range of t-shirts with the names of Australian women artists emblazoned on the front.

“It is time to meet Australia’s culture makers, hear their stories, see their art and know their names,” said Alison Wright, Assistant Director of the NGA. “Women have been shaping Australian culture for more than 60,000 years and it is through the voices of artists we can define a country of tolerance, kindness and inclusion.”

With women comprising approximately 25 percent of its Australian art collection, the NGA aims to help redress this imbalance as part of its campaign by mounting a major exhibition of Australian women artists in May 2020. The Gallery will also exclusively showcase female artists in its 20th century display of Australian contemporary art from May to October next year, and has announced that new artist commissions are underway, with a work by Patricia Piccinini to be unveiled in March as part of the Balnaves Contemporary Intervention series. Angelica Mesiti’s Venice Biennale work, ASSEMBLY, will also make up the Gallery’s 2020 program.

The Gallery is also teaming up with independent researchers, The Countess Report, to develop guidelines for arts organisations to achieve equality, building on the work of the National Association for the Visual Arts, the Australia Council and the Sheila Foundation for women in visual art.

“We want to do more than have a conversation about equality, we want to take action and address the significant imbalance before us,” said Nick Mitzevich, Director of the NGA. “The value of artists in this country needs to be elevated as we are a thriving, diverse culture that should be celebrated.”