Tate St Ives rapped by art lecturer for lack of women artists
AN ART lecturer has called on Tate St Ives to introduce a policy of positive discrimination after being "appalled" at the lack of women artists represented in a series of special prints at the gallery.
Paul Becker, artist and lecturer at Newcastle University, found there were just two women in a list of 21 artists whose exhibitions at the Tate had been commemorated with a special print.
Mr Becker, who says his own art classes are usually split 70/30 women to men, had just visited Tate's summer exhibition, which has an equal split of male and female artists.
So he was doubly shocked to see the imbalance in the number of artists whose work had been immortalised by a master printer.
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The lecturer said gender inequality was becoming a key issue in art circles.
He said: "A recent audit of 100 commercial galleries in London found only 5 per cent had an equal number of male and female artists represented and it goes throughout the art world, it's endemic.
"I know that Tate St Ives is not there to represent Cornish art ... but to be a woman artist in Cornwall and to come to Tate St Ives and see that list – I think it must be really damaging.
"I think they should have positive discrimination. Some people would say it should be on merit but we need something to redress the balance. The role positive discrimination has is to make people think about selecting artists.
"I think there's no malice there. I don't think these people are thinking."
A Tate St Ives spokesperson said: "To accompany an exhibition of an artist's work at Tate St Ives, we sometimes produce a limited edition print. To date, 26 works have been produced and 4 are by female artists. We currently have available 21 prints, with 2 by female artists."
But the gallery insisted it is keen to address sexism and inequality in the art world.
Mark Osterfield, executive director at the gallery, said: "The representation of women artists at Tate is very much a subject of importance to us, and we are endeavouring to create better representation across our programmes.
"Over the past few years, Tate has made a concerted effort to bring more diversity into our collection and to showcase a more diverse range of artists and works in displays and exhibitions. We have reappraised our collection from a diversity perspective to identify any historic gaps when artists from certain backgrounds were overlooked and tried to fill those gaps.
"As a result we have steadily increased the representation of female artists and this is beginning to be reflected in our artistic programme."