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The ‘Know My Name’ exhibition shines a light on female artists, but is it representative enough?

 

The Know My Name exhibition at the National Gallery of Australia is one of fantastic female representation. Featuring paintings, sculptures, videos, photographs and fashion.

Opening in February 2021, and running until July, the exhibit is one that takes you on a journey, looking at pieces that have deep meanings and personal stories to tell.

It is free, but you do need to book tickets online due to COVID.

Despite the amazing gender representation and message behind the exhibition, there is much to be desired by the time you get to the end… and I’m here to tell you what that is.

What I Liked

As you walk into the exhibition, you are greeted by Indigenous female art. The first thing you are hear when you walk in is the Indigenous music that is playing over the gallery speakers.

I liked that it opened with this.

It felt right to walk through all kinds of native art, with native music. It felt authentic and real, and was more effective and immersive than if it were silent.

It was wonderful to see the different kinds of art featured. Sculptures, silk art, paintings and pieces on wood were just some of the examples of art that had a large role in the show.

All of the art in the exhibit is beautiful. Visually and audibly stunning. A real sight to behold.

The walk through is one that teaches you so much. Learning about the experiences of women through art is enlightening. Seeing these personal stories portrayed with paint and sculptures is masterful.

There were some confronting pieces, with one in particular being quite hard to look at. But that was the point of the piece. One that was hard to look at, but represented the female experience. Tragic yet beautiful.

 

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What I didn’t like

While the exhibit was a fun ride from start to finish, I did have a few bones to pick.

The Indigenous representation was fantastic, but there was very little representation from other cultures.

There was one Sri Lankan artist that broke up the representation, with the rest of the art being predominantly by white or Indigenous Australian women.

I would’ve loved to see more, as Australia is a noticeably multicultural country and it would’ve been nice for the exhibit to reflect this.

There was very little accessibility for blind people especially. None of the plaques for the art had braille, it was just printed text.

The plaques of some pieces gave very little, or no explanation. Some pieces had explanations but a vast majority of them had nothing.

Personally, I like to read the plaques to get a feel for what the artist themselves thinks about the piece and how they interpret it.

There were more in depth explanations in a book that is sold at the gift shop. The book is a great read and the explanations are very in depth, but it’s $80 so not accessible to everyone.

The layout for the exhibit was very confusing. There were no barriers separating one exhibit from another, so I continuously found myself wandering into unrelated exhibits without realising it.

 

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My biggest gripe was its length.

It packed a lot of art into a small space and I think it could’ve been spread out a little more. It took me less than an hour to go through the entire thing, which sounds like a long time, but it’s really not, and it doesn’t feel like it when you go in.

I think that if they increased the physical space, it would allow the art to shine more, and would allow the exhibitionists to include more art.

The exhibition is split into two parts, hence why it is a smaller one, but I still would’ve liked to see more art and have more space.

Despite all of the negatives that I pointed out, overall I do recommend going to see it.

I enjoyed looking at the art and taking in the female representation.

It was an enjoyable time, and really allowed me to think about women in the art scene. I’m not a connoisseur by any means, but I can appreciate art when I see it, and I did appreciate this.

 

 

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