Page 3 Profile: Eileen Cooper, Keeper, Royal Academy of Arts


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The Independent Online

Meet Eileen Cooper: she wants to shake up the art world.

The first woman to be appointed to the role of Keeper of the Royal Academy of Arts, Ms Cooper has called for a quota to ensure there are as many female as male members in the institution. In the summer edition of the Royal Academy magazine, she says: “We have amazing artists emerging from art schools and the women and the men are as strong as each other. Why are women’s voices not seen as being interesting?”

How bad is the problem?

In 2011-12, about 62 per cent of arts and design students in the UK were female but an audit of London galleries found in the same year just 31 per cent presented work by women. Ms Cooper says: “The statistics are so ridiculously shocking. Unless you think that women make worse art, you must conclude that the art world fails female artists.” In addition, only a fifth of the 125 Royal Academicians are women. She adds: “Outstanding women are overlooked, and we need to bring them to attention.”

What’s triggered this?

According to Ms Cooper, it’s a vicious cycle: “The problem is perpetuated among the biggest galleries in the country, which should be buying more living women artists. Because women artists aren’t as widely collected by the museums, they aren’t as widely known or promoted as much. It’s great when women fly like Cornelia Parker and Tracey Emin, but there is still a lot to think about”

Does she stand much chance of winning the battle?

The Royal Academy says it is willing to engage in the discussion. Ms Cooper added: “No one is rolling their eyes when it comes up.”