A new series for International Women's Day combines the skills of experienced artists with the creativity of talented young women.
International Women's Day offers a great opportunity to highlight talented female creatives. And so here's a project that's gone right up our flagpole.
Online art gallery Aunt Joy is bringing the talent of creative young girls with established and emerging artists. And the results are pretty special.
Launched in 2022 by contemporary artist Amy Gardner, Aunt Joy is an online gallery exhibiting exciting contemporary art by women as a way of supporting women-centred charities, including Sistah Space, Bloody Good Period, Women's Aid and Refuge.
As the art world is still largely male-dominated, Aunt Joy is highly motivated to pave an easier path for the younger generation of female creatives. On International Women's Day, they're particularly disgruntled with the statistics on confidence in young girls.
According to a study conducted by the National Museum of Women in the Arts, only 13.7% of living artists represented by galleries in Europe and North America are women. That's despite the fact that in the UK, 73% of students in postgraduate art and design courses are women, according to a study by Dr Kate McMillan for the Freedom Foundation.
To seek out the best young talent for the project, Aunt Joy put out an international call out to aspiring female artists ages eight to 14 to submit a piece of artwork under the theme of joy. Submissions flooded in – from the UK to Australia and USA – featuring a huge array of artworks, from abstracts to illustrations and photography.
Established female artists from Aunt Joy then selected their chosen artworks from the submissions and went on to create collaborative artworks with the selected girls' artwork at its core. Each selected young artist will receive one of the limited edition artworks that their art is featured in from the collaborating artist.
The resulting series, Girls Like Us, includes a collection of limited-edition prints and original paintings. They're available to purchase at AuntJoyGallery.com, and 50 per cent of sales will be donated to female-centred charities.
From the heart
"This collection is straight from the heart," says Aunt Joy founder Amy Gardner. "To me, it's a visual representation of women supporting women and girls. There's been an immeasurable amount of joy and excitement generated from this collaborative collection, and watching it come together has been incredibly exciting and moving. The collection has so much strength and connection, with stunning artworks and titles like 'Wild Young Lady, Use Your Voice', 'The World That Is Coming', 'Strength In Numbers' and 'It's All Mine'.
"I intended to create something that would spread joy, as I am a big believer in the importance of joy," she continues. "I also wanted to create something that speaks to the imbalance of the current state of representation of women in art while inspiring creative young girls and raising funds for incredible charities supporting women and girls."
It was very important to Amy that they opened the call to girls between eight and 14, she adds. "The studies show that across these years young girls' confidence levels drop by 30%. It feels to me that it's across these sensitive formative years that we have the most potential to inspire, when young girls are starting to look outward, reading society to see where they might fit in and what they might strive for."
And there was clearly a demand there. "The response to the open call to girls was overwhelming," she says. "We had incredibly talented entries from across the world: South Africa, America, Australia, and Brazil. As part of the open call, girls were asked what they love about creating art. We saw a strong overriding theme of a love of creating freely, without limitations and rules. Which sings so perfectly in tune with what is at the heart of Aunt Joy."