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Art celebrates 125 years of New Zealand women’s suffrage

Tuesday 4 September 2018 10:39am

Jacqueline Fahey, (1929-), Sisters Communing, 1974, oil on board: 1190 x 1012mm, 75/39, purchased from the artist, 1975, Hocken Collections, Uare Taoka o Hākena, University of Otago.

“Is it right that while the loafer, the gambler, the drunkard, and even the wife-beater has a vote, earnest, educated and refined women are denied it?”

Suffragist Kate Sheppard delivered these words in 1892 as she fought for the rights of women. Thanks to her and thousands like her, this year, New Zealand marks 125 years of women’s suffrage.

To honour the occasion, the Hocken Collections, Uare Taoka o Hākena presents Sisters Communing, an exhibition which draws connections between art and items relating to women gaining the vote from its archival collection.

The exhibition borrows its title from one of the Hocken’s most treasured artworks by Jacqueline Fahey, Sisters Communing, which celebrates the artistic, domestic, social and political lives of New Zealand women.

“The exhibition proposes an inclusive approach to feminism and the diversity of women’s experiences across time,” Andrea Bell, Curator Art – Pictorial Collections, says.

"The exhibition proposes an inclusive approach to feminism and the diversity of women’s experiences across time."

Works range from a collection of Suffragette badges owned by Lady Anna Stout, to artist Doris Lusk’s painted still life [Flower Study] (1940) and Robyn Kahukiwa’s bold and powerful Mana Wahine Maori (1993).

Further opening up this dialogue, an exhibition at Blue Oyster Project Space in Dowling Street, will present new artworks created in response to selected Hocken collection items, using the 125th anniversary as a starting point to examine the relevance of women’s suffrage in Aotearoa New Zealand today.

“From collective action to personal reflection and individual expression, these two exhibitions will offer a wealth of approaches to women’s rights, achievements, opinions and shared experiences across generations,” Robyn Notman, Head Curator – Pictorial Collections, says.

Come along:

Sisters Communing
15 Sep to 3 Nov, Mon to Fri 10am to 5pm
Hocken Collections, Uare Taoka o Hākena, 90 Anzac Ave, Dunedin