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Exhibitions | Galleries | Studios | Street Art | Art in Public Places | Ōtautahi Christchurch and Canterbury

Women’s Work (is Not Yet Done)


Women were once not seen as makers of art across many Western cultures. Their work was either devalued or overlooked, while many of the media they used for creation were not considered to be those of art. From mythology and folklore to the work place, women’s roles have more widely been limited in male dominated societies. In contemporary Aotearoa, inequality remains, with surveys showing that while women outnumber men at art school, they are underrepresented in our major galleries, and paid almost half of what men earn from creative work.

In the month of June at Stoddart Cottage Gallery, the group exhibition Women’s Work presents the diversity and power of the practice and perspectives of women and nonbinary artists. These artists have been brought together from a spectrum of backgrounds, ages, and stages of their careers, with practices that span fibre art to photography, soft to hard sculpture, painting to installation. 

The history of ‘women’s work’ has meant that mediums like textiles and ceramics have served as particularly potent tools to engage with feminist issues in modern and contemporary art,” notes Ferren Gipson in her recent book,Women’s Work. “These mediums are fortified with a special capacity to express women’s stories and diverse perspectives through their historical associations with the feminine. For that reason, they are the perfect means of dismantling stereotypes, tapping into different experiences of womanhood and disrupting historically male spaces.”

Much of the art in Women’s Work hails from the decorative and applied arts, such as the textiles, weaving and ceramics that were once were separated from the so-called ‘high arts’ of painting and sculpture in Western conceptions. These are used to transmit experience and knowledge from outside the male realm. For example, Sook Hwang’s reflection on women’s histories, juxtaposes the harsh sexual exploitation of Korean women during the Second World War with the delicate embroidery of her framed works. For Janna van Hasselt, the repetitive rolling, kneading, twisting and pressing in the very making of her ceramics is reminiscent of the daily tasks of women in the domestic sphere.

Women’s Work also engages with taonga from Te Whare Pora, sharing mātauranga and power of different kinds from the house of weaving. The mat woven from harakeke by Raukohe Hallett (Ngāti Tuwharetoa, Ngāti Kahungunu),Niho Katakata supports hospitality and connection at a family table, while in the installation Sketch for a Power Fill Threshold, Turumeke Harrington (Kāi Tahu) enlightens through a mat woven from electrical cables to which lamps are attached.

Male themes and materials are also subverted and reclaimed in the exhibition.  Anita DeSoto revisits the works of the ‘Old Masters’ from a feminist perspective.In her large scale oil painting, Potion for the Protection of Animals, after Jordaen, DeSoto reinterprets the role of the Goddess Diana as a hunter, through refocusing on her feminine connectivity to nature and peacemaking skills. Maria Lee sculpts the soft curves of female organs out of hard rock, while Herbert Stockman explores the archetype of the ‘deformed hyperfeminine’from the perspective of queer sexuality through the stabs to the pliant material of their needle felted fibre art sculpture.

As a “lady painter” working over a century ago, the artist, Margaret Stoddart – at whose birthplace this exhibition is held – was encouraged to stick to the suitably feminine subject of flowers. Resisting these limitations, she went on to paint the landscapes once considered the terrain of men, some of which can be viewed in the rear gallery space at Stoddart Cottage. Women artists still face challenges in both making their work, and having it supported. There is still much work to be done.

Turumeke Harrington Artist Event:  Turumeke Harrington (KāiTahu) will be leading an artist event reflecting on her time as a Stoddart Cottage-Purau Artist-in-Residence, Sunday 16 June at Stoddart Cottage at 11am. Harrington has been a resident, May to June, working on the research project “A significant contribution to New Zealand landscape art”, which explores NgāiTahu relationships to whenua through consideration of the artist's own whakapapa and the representation of the landscape within New Zealand art history. This research will result in the production of new artworks; sculpture, installation and painting. Harrington is also showing work in Stoddart Cottage’s June Women’s Work group exhibition.

 Harrington has a background in industrial design and fine arts. An interest in whakapapa, space, colour, and material sees her regularly creating large sculptural installations at the intersection of art and design. She has an MFA from Te Kunenga ki Pūrehuroa Massey University, a BFA from Ilam School of Fine Arts, and a Bachelor Design Innovation from Victoria University of Wellington, exhibiting widely across Aotearoa.

This event is open to all. No need to book. Further details can be found at

DETAILS:  Women’s Work

The artists are: Scarlett-Rose Adamson, Anita DeSoto, Raukohe Hallett, Turumeke Harrington, Hannah Harte, Janna van Hasselt, Sook Hwang, Maria Lee, Moana Lee, Herbert Stockman, Naomi van den Broek.

Stoddart Cottage Gallery, 2 Waipapa Avenue, Diamond Harbour, 31 May - 30 June 2024

Opening Event: Saturday 1 May, 3-5pm

Venue hours: Friday-Sunday plus most public holidays, 10am-4pm.

Women’s Work (is Not Yet Done)


Sook Hwang, When darkness and wind lash my heart, fabric dyed and freehand machine embroidery

Anita deSoto, untitled, oil on canvas

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