Kate Bryan, art historian, curator and broadcaster is used to being in the spotlight, having presented television programmes on BBC2 and Sky Arts. She is passionate about demystifying contemporary art and making it accessible to broader audiences. By Meike Brunkhorst.
This week we’re shining the WIA spotlight on Kate for championing women artists in a male dominated art world. As Head of Collections for Soho House & Co, she was tasked with curating the collection for the Vault of the former HQ of Midlands Bank, now London’s hottest ticket and housing a 5-star hotel, eight restaurants, several bars, a spa and a private members club, all under one roof.
Entering the Vault is like stepping into the set of a James Bond movie and you wonder what would have been stored in the safe deposit boxes you pass on your way to the bar. Apparently the circular door alone weighs 20 tonnes and cost two horses’ lives when first installed.
Kate Bryan based her selection on inverting the FTSE 100 ratio of 93 male CEOs to just 7 women by selecting 93 works by female artists. In order for any male artists to be included in the collection, their works had to be made in collaboration with women. In stark contrast to the highly competitive patriarchal environment of the City, most artists suggested other women artists during the selection process – no male artists ever do this!
The collection displays works by grand dames like Bridget Riley, Cornelia Parker and Phyllida Barlow alongside Tracey Emin, Rachel Whiteread and Sarah Lucas and many younger emerging artists – some with feminist themes, all genuinely good work.
More women are taking up positions of power in the art world (while in the City the trend went the wrong way with one female CEO dropping off the latest FTSE 100 list) and women artists increasingly receive recognition during their lifetime, albeit often not until they have reached their 80s or 90s.
Kate Bryan is passionate about providing younger women artists with opportunities to get their work seen and reducing the difference in prices demanded by male artists compared to their female counterparts. At present most artists included in the Vault collection are still very affordable.
Some will be exhibiting at The Other Art Fair 4-7 October. To mark it’s 30th edition, the fair introduces a sister site wholly dedicated to showcasing women artists. Housed around the corner from The Other Art Fair at the former Old Central St. Martin’s College, Not 30% features 30 women artists handpicked by Kate Bryan. The name refers to the proportion of women artists represented in museum collections and exhibitions (while 60% art graduates are women).
Sarah Maple and Gina Soden are amongst the artists whose work is included in the Vault Collection at The Ned and who are exhibiting at Not 30% as is recent WIA feature artist Hanna Ten Doornkaat.
We particularly recommend attending one of the free guided tours with Kate Bryan which start at 6pm on Friday 5 October and 2pm on Saturday 6 October. You will be able to book tickets at the welcome desk of The College, Old Central St Martins Building, Southampton Row, London WC1B 4AP
The Other Art Fair London opens 4-7 October 2018 at Victoria House & The College.
Tickets available here.
Meike Brunkhorst runs factor-m, a consultancy providing essential guidance and strategic support for artists seeking to improve efficiency and to achieve set goals.