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Confirmation of Candidature - Candidate : Janice Mills

Not all Pixies and Fairy Dust: Case Studies Investigating Socio-Economic Impacts and Practices of two Australian Women Artists
27 MAR 2023
11.00 AM - 12.30 PM

The lives of women artists in Australia have been historically impacted by a variety of issues surrounding health, politics, education, employment and other societal concerns. Examining these from a 21st century perspective requires being mindful of contexts like shifting gender roles and biases throughout history, which includes socio-economic changes throughout the 20th and into the 21st century. Rather than focussing on gender discrimination, or approaching these roles from a feminist perspective, however, I intend to unpack socio-economic issues that I argue are of equal importance.
Such socio-economic issues about the changing attitudes about the roles of women in society from primarily wives and mothers to include professional, academic and other pursuits form an aspect of my research. In the context of fine art, my research will argue that these expanded roles also comprise the search by Australian women artists from all social and economic backgrounds for autonomy as independent professional artists. 
The question remaining, however, is how significantly circumstances have changed for women artists and what issues remain that hinder them. In response, my practice-led research appraises my practice and methods of artmaking as a contemporary, female arts practitioner. In addition, my research examines the social and artistic influences, and practice, of Australian female sculptor Ola Cohn (1892-1964) as a case study, in contrast to opportunities and impediments to my own art practice, in response to these matters. 
Despite her lifelong achievements little has been written about Cohn in any great depth with only one biography available in book form. My recent research on the internet has found several pages that discusses her work on the Fairies Tree in Melbourne and her fairies books, but little detail about her more challenging modernist work. There is also only superficial information in these web sites about her personal feelings about her art, and the opposition she faced in Australia from critics, as she experimented with new methods of sculpting. According to the information gleaned during my previous research for my Bachelor and Master's degrees, this is reflective of many women artists of her generation. Whether this is because of socio-economic circumstances will be investigated during my research project.

For more information, please email the Graduate Research School or phone 0746 31 1088.