A worldwide movement to recognise and celebrate the contributions of women artists is swiftly building momentum. The National Gallery of Australia is supporting an equity initiative #knowmyname that will feature exhibitions, collaborations, displays and commissions from iconic female artists throughout history and rising stars of today. The aim is to unearth and celebrate female artists and address gender inequalities in the art world.

In the spirit of #knowmyname, UNSW's Senior Curator of Art, Elena Taylor, is developing an online exhibition showcasing works by twenty leading women artists in the UNSW Art Collection. The exhibition launching in early 2020 is part of a broader effort by the UNSW Art Unit to support and celebrate women artists. “Throughout the year, the UNSW Art Unit have also focused on acquiring works by women artists, including works by Indigenous artists and recent graduates of UNSW Art & Design,” Elena Taylor says.

The empowering movement parallels the return of the Mona Hessing tapestry in the Clancy Auditorium, after it was off display during the building renovations.

Mona Hessing (1933-2001) was at the forefront of contemporary practice during the 1960s and 1970s. Her monumental textile-works celebrated women’s artistic practices and challenged the male-dominated art of the era.  In 1971, Hessing was commissioned by UNSW to produce a 24-metre-long site-specific work for the new Clancy Auditorium.  She was the first female artist to be offered a major commission by UNSW.