Appeals: Women's Art Library

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The Independent Online
The Family 1988, acrylic on paper laid on canvas by Paula Rego (born 1935), an image which the Women's Art Library (formerly the Women Artists Slide Library) has in its collection of over 35,000 slides of work by female artists. The library, founded in 1976 and opened to the public in 1982, is appealing for pounds 1.2m so that it can expand its premises and secure its future: at the moment it is housed in two rooms at Fulham Palace, in London, but it urgently needs to buy more space or buy its own building.

The library maintains that female artists have been neglected, partly because of their past choice of subject-matter - often still lifes and intimate domestic scenes. It offers visual and written information to the public about the work of over 1,500 known female artists. The slides, which are for reference only, are arranged into three sections: historical, documentation and contemporary. The historical section includes evidence of female artists working on monastic scrolls in the 14th century and wood carving in early medieval times. Contemporary artists wanting to be represented by the library must demonstrate a seriousness of intent by sending in good-quality slides of their work.

The library also has books, video and sound tapes, newspaper and magazine cuttings about female artists; and it publishes Women's Art, a magazine, six times a year. It houses extensive archival material from two defunct art societies, the Society of Women Artists and the International Women's Club, both founded in the 19th century. In March, the library produced its first educational slide pack for teachers and schools, containing 40 slides of a selection of works by female artists with biographical information. This included work by Paula Rego, Artemisia Gentileschi, Kathe Kollwitz, Elisabeth Frink and Judith Leyster. The packs, costing pounds 38 each, sold out within three weeks and the library is now issuing a second series.

For further information, contact: The Women's Art Library, Fulham Palace, Bishop's Avenue, London SW6 6EA, telephone 071-731 7618.

Photograph: Marlborough Fine Art Collection

(Photograph omitted)