Women's Work Exhibition

When I met Dr Mary Hepburn for the first time I was genuinely shocked by what she told me. She said that when she was a medical student at Edinburgh University, the entry requirements for women were different. They had to be of a higher grade to men. This was less than 40 years ago. Sorry, what now?

Rachael Rebus, Dr Mary Hepburn

I had been reading about the Seven Against Edinburgh who were the leading ladies in the fight to gain the same educational rights as men in Britain – I assume most of us weren’t taught about them in history. There aren’t many photographs of them, only Sophia Jex Blake and Edith Pechey. It seemed outrageous to that no one really knew about them and I myself had only just discovered them. I have been to University, in fact around 60% of women in Scotland have been to University but I had never really thought about the quest for women’s rights in education and just how recent it was. It took 24 years from gaining the right to vote for women to then be able to graduate at University level in Britain. There were riots to stop the Edinburgh Seven sitting exams, they had mud hurled at them, doors literally shut in their faces and all round aggression directed their way. It’s amazing to know they went through all this and didn’t give up for us. The Edinburgh Seven were living and fighting through the late 1800’s. Dr Mary Hepburn went to university in the mid 60’s. So how far have women come in the fight for women's work?

It was this nagging question that began my thought process and led me to ask; in an age of austerity and threats to women's rights, how far have women progressed in their fight for equality? What does it look like? It’s an important question to ask as an artist. I started by exploring society’s definition of “feminine” roles throughout history, looking at the story of a ‘woman’s work’ in the fight to transform the definitions and conditions that produced them. There are a plethora of stories in Britain of women who have contributed to advancements in woman’s rights and I wanted to explore and celebrate these narratives of triumph in the face of adversity.

Not a lot of people know the faces that have shaped and are still working to shape the future of women in Britain. It was important to me to paint portraits of some of these women and to explore how people see them in the public eye. These women are determined, resilient and bloody hard working. It is these women who I wanted to paint and to recognise and introduce other people to. They are all fabulous, strong and brave and we should celebrate them.

Rachael Rebus, Mary Barbour, 2018

Among them I chose to paint portraits of the Edinburgh Seven, to put images to our faceless heroines, of obstetrician and gynaecologist Dr Mary Barbour who is known for her work to support socially disadvantaged women, political activist Mary Barbour, MSP Monica Lennon who is leading the way to end period poverty, Kara Brown Director at Young Women’s Engagement at World YWCA, Talat Yaqoob Director of Equate Scotland and Carolyn Currie Chief Operating Officer for Women’s Enterprise Scotland, Scottish Makar Jackie Kay, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Louise Macdonald CEO of Young Scot who was appointed as independent chair of the First Minister’s new Advisory Council on Women and Girls last year. Their enterprises are too long to list here and even editing down brief biographies for my exhibition, their list of achievements still amounted to six A4 pages

It’s been 100 years since the first women in Britain gained the right to vote. That’s definitely cause for celebration – we’ve come a long way. In 10 years time we will celebrate all women in Britain over the age of 21 gaining the right to vote. As Dr Mary Hepburn learned while studying medicine the goal posts are always changing but with women like these fighting in our corner, I wonder how far women’s rights will have progressed in 10 years time – I’m excited to see what they will look like.

The exhibition runs from 15 June – 13 July 2018

Six Foot Gallery, Pentagon Centre, 36 Washington Street, Glasgow G3 8AZ

Six Foot Gallery are housed within The Pentagon Centre on Washington Street. This is just a short walk from Glasgow Central Station, just off Argyle Street. At the entrance please ring 100 to be let into the building by Reception.

The exhibition covers the ground floor of the Pentagon Centre and is open plan to two adjoining rooms where more exhibits will be hung and presented. The Exhibition is open to all members of the public.

Office Opening Hours // Monday/Tuesday/Thursday/Friday 10am - 5pm.

The Pentagon Centre has longer opening hours into the evening so you will be able to view the exhibition whilst the office is closed as well.

For further information, please contact sixfootgallery@gmail.com, call 0141 221 2704, or visit https://sixfootgallery.wordpress.com/

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