Women Only?!

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Our panel debates why there is a growing trend for ‘women only’ exhibitions and awards.

Speakers include: Sue Jelley, President of the Society of Women ArtistsMelanie Cassoff, Managing Director of the Freelands Foundation and Eliza Gluckman, Curator of New Hall Art Collection. The discussion will be Chaired by Susan Mumford, founder of the Association of Women Art Dealers and mentor, speaker and author with Be Smart About Art


Join us for a discussion on Women in the Arts by experts in the field, taking place within the environs of a large women only exhibition, The Society of Women Artists’ Summer Exhibition and in response to increased focus on women-only prizes, such as the recently launched £100,000 Freelands Award.

Our Panel will debate why there is a growing trend for women-only exhibitions and awards.

Come and join in and ask questions of our expert panel:

Sue Jelley, President of the Society of Women Artists

The Society of Women Artists (SWA) was founded in 1855 to provide a platform for female artists to show their work. The art establishment at the time did not consider women serious artists and there were few places for any artist to show their work outside of large institutions. Over 160 years later the Society is still going strong, holding a major exhibition every year showing work by members as well as those selected from open submission.

Sue is the President of the Society as well as an internationally recognised artist. Her presidency focuses much attention on encouraging young artists to begin their careers in the art world.

Melanie Cassoff, Managing Director Freelands Foundation

The Freelands Foundation has just set up the Freelands Award to “enable a regional arts organisation to present an exhibition, including significant new work, by a mid-career female artist. The aim is to support an artist who has not yet achieved the acclaim and public recognition that her work deserves.”

The total value of the Freelands Award is £100,000.

This award has been set up in response to a report commissioned by the Foundation last year into gender discrepancies across a number of mid-career indicators. The report found that while women outnumbered men (62%) as students studying art and design subjects, by the mid-career point (representation by galleries, solo exhibitions at major galleries, nomination for major prizes) men outnumber women by 60 – 70%.

Melanie holds an MBA from INSEAD in France, a Master’s Degree from the London School of Economics. She was a Private Banker for the last 12 years of her career, holding senior positions at Deutsche Bank Private Wealth Management  

Eliza Gluckman, New Hall Art Collection Curator

The New Hall Art Collection is the largest collection of works by women artists in Europe. It provides encouragement and opportunities particularly for young women artists and stimulates an understanding and appreciation of the social, even political, aspects of art as well as the cultural and intellectual. The Collection was founded in 1986. 

The Collection is housed at Murray Edwards College, Cambridge. The women-only college was founded in 1954, when most Cambridge colleges would not accept women as students.

Eliza also curates exhibitions and events as part of Day+Gluckman, including the project ‘A Woman’s Place’ comprising art and discussion; commissions, conversations and action. Their next event will be ‘Liberties Cornwall’, an exhibition of contemporary art reflecting on 40 years since the Sex Discrimination Act at The Exchange, Penzance, opening this October.


Discussion Chair: Susan Mumford, founder of the Association of Women Art Dealers and Be Smart About Art

Susan is a game-changer in the 21st Century art world. She’s an entrepreneur, mentor, speaker and author. While running a gallery in Soho, London, she founded the Association of Women Art Dealers (AWAD), a non-profit trade network with London, New York and Virtual chapters. Several years later, she started a social enterprise called Be Smart About Art, which helps art world professionals thrive in a changing industry. The organisation’s motto is: “Art is your life. Make it your living.” In late 2015, her first book was published: Art is your life. Make it your living.