This October, Fru Tholstrup and Jane Neal present 21st Century Women, an iconic new group exhibition of British female artists, at Unit London’s new Mayfair gallery. 21st Century Women celebrates the centenary of women receiving the right to vote* and comprises a survey of emerging and established British female talent working across a wide range of disciplines.
These include: Helen Beard, Anna Freeman Bentley, Zoe Beckman, Charlotte Colbert, Laura Ford, Eloise Fornieles, Maggi Hambling, Chantal Joffe, Kate MccGwire, Polly Morgan, Annie Morris, Suzy Murphy, Ishbel Myerscough, Vicken Parsons, Boo Saville, Jenny Saville, Sue Webster, Victoria Wright and Michaela Yearwood-Dan.
Launching in tandem with Frieze art week, the show includes British artists who examine the role of women in contemporary society; others who are motivated by the body politics surrounding the objectification of the female form; and those who question the fractured sense of being that many contemporary women feel today. Some of the artists included have chosen work that is not intended to be read and interpreted through the lens of their sex. This is a show about the freedom of women to make the art that they choose.
New research from the Freelands Foundation has shown that although 66% of postgraduate arts students in 2017 were female, just under a third of artists represented by London’s major galleries were women. In 2017, just 22% of solo shows presented by major London non-commercial galleries were by women artists. Shockingly, this figure has decreased since 2016, which shows why it is more important than ever to champion female artists.
The exhibition is taking place at Unit London, a vibrant new gallery in the heart of Mayfair that was co-founded by two young entrepreneurs: Joe Kennedy and Jonny Burt. The exciting new space at 3 Hanover Square encompasses 6,000 sq ft over two expansive exhibition floors. With nearly 250,000 Instagram followers and one of the biggest engagement rates across any art platform, they have become a powerful art-world influencer, garnering over 3 million weekly impressions across the globe.
* At the end of the First World War, in 1918, the Representation of the People Act gave women over 30 - who were also householders - the vote. This was not extended to all women over the age of 21 until 1928.