Visiting the Andy Warhol and Guerrilla Girls display at the Tate Modern a few weeks ago fueled my desire to write this post. In a 1989 artwork by the Guerrilla Girls that depicts inequality within the Met. Museum, a bold design is presented with text that reads, ‘Less than 5% of the artists in the in the Modern Arts Section are women, but 85% of the nudes are female’. The Guerrilla Girls are an anonymous movement of female, feminist artists who have dedicated their time to combating sexism and racism within the art world. The Tate names them ‘pioneers in challenging prejudice’. Forming in 1985, the collective strives to bring racial and gender inequality to the forefront of ‘the greater arts community’.
The exhibition resonated with me, not only as I care about intersectional feminism and art, but also as I am a young woman from an area where the support for female creativity is, ultimately, pretty weak. After moving to London, I noticed the way in which female creatives not only champion each other but are also encouraged by wider networks and collectives. I began to look back at the artistically inclined females I know in Edinburgh and realised how often they inspired, educated and motivated me, even if it was not directly.
Throughout my formative years in Edinburgh, I always felt that it was such a boys club, whether you engaged in music, art or another medium of storytelling. Encouragement was often male-focused and from those who moved within a familiar, cosy circle. Of course, this just my opinion and I am in no way discrediting the exceptional work generated by our male counterparts. The creative industries, in general, are an uphill struggle (consciously did not write uphill battle for fear of sounding like Miley Cyrus) for the majority of people. Access and funding do not come easy, but I know that I’m not alone in experiencing the gendered disconnect.
In the same breath, the insular nature of the capital’s creative field is what has provoked many women to form communities for themselves; for example, Edinburgh’s blogging scene is largely occupied by females.
Hopefully in the future gender will be a topic that doesn’t need to run throughout the conversation, but for now, unfortunately, underrepresentation is still so deeply embedded in our society’s framework. I could count on one hand the number of female DJs that I have seen playing a night in the capital or the number of female musicians that are represented in an equal fashion to that of male musicians, even less so if they are women of colour. As females, we are questioned further, scrutinised more and are required to consistently prove that we are worthy of a seat at the city’s creative table.
As part of my final university project, I built a website which discussed how in sync we are with youth culture in Edinburgh. The aim was to report on what was happening creatively within Scottish communities. While constructing the website and gathering the stories that I wanted to tell, I noticed how little exposure female creators in the city received. During this process, I experienced an overwhelming sense of the creative environment in Edinburgh being governed by males. I realised that although I had the resources at hand, I had not done enough digging to find women who were also trying to pursue their artistic passion within the same space.
Overall the support for atypical art in Edinburgh is limited for everyone involved. However, there are so many amazing women living in my hometown who produce spectacular material, whilst evolving and finding their artistic groove, that don’t receive enough recognition. There are designers, photographers, artists, musicians, event organisers, DJs, writers and bloggers to list a few. I want to express how fundamental it is to support them. Follow their pages, like their posts, share, subscribe, buy their merchandise, commission them, visit their small businesses and credit their work (PLZ!!). Whatever it is; support, support, support! The communities and environments that surround us, shape us. The creative ladies in my life have inspired me to do more, to allow myself to be completely in tune with my own creativity and to unapologetically grow my confidence. I now realise that they have indirectly morphed into my role models and instilled a sense of sisterhood within me. There is enough space for everybody. Whatever it is that you love to do, I hope you can pursue it.
In short, support ya girls. Ladies, we are visionaries too.