21st Century Women in Art | Affordable Art Fair (2023)

About art

Join Katy Hessel, founder of the hugely successful ‘The Great Women Artists’ Instagram and podcast, as she chairs our inspirational female panel on navigating the art world as a woman today.

Join Katy Hessel, founder of the hugely successful ‘The Great Women Artists’ Instagram and podcast, as she chairs our inspirational female panel on navigating the art world as a woman today on Friday 13 March at our upcoming Battersea Spring edition.

Read on to get a flavour for the great work our panellists do in the creative industry and what makes up their day jobs in the arts.

Meet Curator Cassie Beadle

Can you tell me a bit about the work you do, the career path you’ve had and how you’ve found working in the industry as a woman?

21st Century Women in Art | Affordable Art Fair (1)“My role as a curator of the Cobb Gallery involves sourcing new artists to join our roster, mentoring them in the studio and nurturing the early stages of their career.

“Working as a woman in the arts has its ups and downs (as I’m sure most industries do) – I’ve never been a man so can’t really speak from the other perspective! I find it a complicated subject to discuss, as I feel like it could stereotype women further. That being said, I have been working alongside and with women since the beginning of my career and we have predominately worked with female artists. The gallery was founded by four of the strongest, most powerful women I’ve ever met, and I’ve been so lucky to know nothing other than a working environment of women supporting women. This happened subconsciously and prior to a more recent, public narrative, discussion surrounding gender equality.

“The current focus on females in the arts, however, is having such an extraordinary impact on the industry as whole – with institutions really scrutinising their cache of female artists in their collections and improving visibility for them in their annual programme. I also think this has such an amazing ‘knock on effect’ for other underrepresented voices in the arts and further afield.

“What is frightening is that I think it does call into question what may be missing from the ‘HIS’story of art – how eschewed or unbalanced this version could potentially be.

“Furthermore – to see the popularity of The Great Women Artists Instagram rise and this incredible impact it has in highlighting some of the most extraordinary female creatives of our time is nothing short of an incredible and vital thing.”

Meet Art Advisor and AWITA member Amanda K Lambert

What was your path to working as an art advisor?

21st Century Women in Art | Affordable Art Fair (2)“I’ve worked in a few different sectors of the art market. I started in auction houses in Paris working in the modern and impressionist art departments, came to London to study Northern Renaissance art at the Courtauld, then jumped ahead 500+ years to work in contemporary art! After an initial stint working for an art advisor in London, which was a very helpful experience, I opened a pop-up gallery working with emerging and mid-career artists. It ran a salon-style programme of events tailored to young professionals with an interest in understanding and navigating the contemporary art market. The success of this further developed my passion and led to my now career.

“The underlying motivation in each of these ventures has been my interest in art history and later, in getting to know contemporary artists and supporting their practice. As an advisor, I am really excited to introduce clients to lesser known talents and create a narrative that runs across a collection that helps to tell a story that resonates with the client.

“As a woman in the art industry, I’ve been heartened by the collaborative spirit that I’ve found many of my female art world peers to have. It’s a vibrant ecosystem that is founded on a genuine passion for art and a desire to work together to make things happen.”

What would be your advice to anyone wanting to work in the art world?

“My advice for pursuing a career in the arts is three-fold; firstly, understand really what it is that drives you. That passion is going to be your key motivator as you navigate the industry. Secondly, never underestimate the importance of having experience. Try to find some older, more experienced people you look up to who could serve as mentors or at least can take some time to discuss their career path. Thirdly, read as much as you can, see as much as you can and get to know as many people as you can. Consider people, relationships and building respect and trust as key to your success.”

Who’s your favourite female artist?

“One of my favourite female artists is Louise Bourgeois. It sounds cliché because who isn’t moved by her work? But her practice resonates with me even more since I became a mother. So many of these women didn’t have the resources, time, money or respect to become professional artists. So they drew at the kitchen table. She created incredibly brave, ground-breaking and soul-baring work. She found her voice and created a body of work that was completely and utterly hers and hers alone.”

Meet Head of Digital for Affordable Art Fair Gemma Williams

Tell us a bit about how your career has evolved?

21st Century Women in Art | Affordable Art Fair (3)“I’m the Head of Digital for the Affordable Art Fair. I started out my career in the buying sector of retail and then moved to marketing before transitioning my career to ecommerce. My 13-year career has largely been within the retail industry having worked within varying industries like food, home, fashion, jewellery and art across the UK, Russia and the Middle East. My move into ecommerce began in 2011 when I saw the growth it was driving within the business and was keen to learn new and exciting skills. Relatively speaking ecommerce is a fairly new industry and so the cultures within it are typically more inclusive and open so it has a very well balanced working culture as a woman, however in my experience gender imbalances in the workplace tend to take place in known male dominated industries such as; electronics.”

What advice would you give to those considering a career change?

“My advice to those who may be interested in progressing or changing their career path, be it in the arts or elsewhere, is to first identify their ‘WHY’ or the true reason and intent that lies behind what they want. The key to that is really to identify your values and purpose in order to determine where you want to go and what energises you most. I can certainly say that the times in my life when I’ve been most unstoppable is when I have truly enjoyed what I do and been sprung to action through inspiration vs. expectation. I strongly believe that every decision we make in life should be to serve our desire for happiness.”

Who’s your favourite female artist and why?

“Barbara Hepworth. I adore sculpture and for me Hepworth’s work embodies the notion that as a woman you can absolutely be, do, have and share anything so long as you do not stand in opposition to yourself by way of your mindset. There is a perception that large scale sculpture of this nature is a medium for men and she plays such an important role in dispelling this myth and will always path the way for leading female sculptors.”

Meet Artist Lily Kemp

Your work focuses on women, what are the key ideas you explore?

21st Century Women in Art | Affordable Art Fair (4)“My paintings explore how women, in particular women of colour, are represented in visual culture and in art history. I am critical of the hyper-sexualisation of the female body in visual culture, the exoticism and fetishisation of women of colour and the history of men painting women naked. In my work I aim to offer an alternate gaze to the traditional cis male-centred gaze.

“Women of colour, in particular Black women, remain largely underrepresented in visual culture and where they are represented it is often within a limiting stereotypical lens . Visual culture plays a significant role in shaping our perception of each other and how we in turn see ourselves, it is not only important to see yourself represented but to see yourself represented in a way that is multifaceted. I am interested in changing the narrative and presenting women as the subject rather than object, in my work I take images of women from fashion magazines and re-represent them in an agricultural/industrial work context. In this example (pictured) I have altered her clothes and have replaced the model’s parasol with a rake. You’ll be able to see the full, finished version of this painting at the Battersea Spring Fair. Going forward I would like to develop a more collaborative practice working alongside upcoming women and menswear designers and photographing women myself, having conversations about how they would like to be represented.”

What advice would you give to a recent graduate?

“The best advice I could give is to keep up with or for those of you moving home after university, to rebuild a community of artists around you. Actively go to private views and check in with and support each other, this community will be both your support system that will help you keep going and how you will hear of upcoming opportunities.

“It’s really hard graduating and uprooting from the safe environment of university. It’s easy to suddenly feel very alone and unsure what to do next. I’d say that even if you’re unable to work on your practice in the same way, being a part of a community of artists will make you feel like you’re all in this new chapter together, which will subsequently encourage you to make new work, as you’re still surrounded by like-minded people.”

21st Century Women in Art | Affordable Art Fair (5)21st Century Women in Art | Affordable Art Fair (6)

A big thank you to all the panellist for speaking about their stories, we can’t wait to hear more from them during the 21st Century Women In Art panel talk on the Female Focus Day, Friday 13 March, at our Battersea Spring edition. Don’t forget to snap up a ticket in advance.


Header Image: Portraits for the Panelists by Sketch Appeal.

Images top to bottom:
Katy Hessel
Cassie Beadle
Amanda K Lambert
Gemma Williams
Lily Kemp
Lily Kemp, ‘The Dawn’, detail shots

  • 21st Century Women in Art | Affordable Art Fair (7)

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