Girls at The Tin Sheds

Art Life , Exhibitions Feb 20, 2015 No Comments

From Andrew Frost

In the olden days, the walls and hoardings of Sydney’s streets and building sites were festooned with colourful posters advertising bands and clubs, film festivals and protest marches and just about every cultural event happening. Beyond the pages of the street press and culture magazines, posters were a key way to reach a passing audience and although street posters persist in the inner city and on telegraph poles out in the ‘burbs, they’re but a faint echo of a once dominant part of the visual culture of Sydney.


A vital part of that history is the subject of Girls at The Tin Sheds: Sydney Feminist Posters 1975-90 . Located at Sydney University, Tin Sheds was set up in 1970 as a hands-on art making studio for students studying fine arts but unable to make actual artworks. Well known for its radical politics and conceptual art practices, Tin Sheds was also the location for poster making collectives such as anarchist Earthworks group and individual poster makers. Tapping into the ready made audience of the street and the walls of sympathetic venues, Tin Sheds became known for the work of women artists including Jean Clarkson, Pam Debenham, Jan Fieldsend, Angela Gee, Therese Kenyon, Leonie Lane, Jan Mackay, Marie McMahon, Avril Quaill, Toni Robertson, Yanni Stumbles and Sheona White who produced striking slogan-rich works that often humourlessly and pointedly made comment on the state of feminist discourse and the status of women in society. Staged to coincide with the anniversary of the International Women’s Year, and drawn from the University collection, the posters are snapshots of a different time, but with their messages of feminism, Aboriginal rights and environmentalism remain vital.

Until April 24
University Art Gallery, Sydney University
Pic: Toni Robertson, The way to a women’s heart is through her masochism, 1979; Pam Debenham, No nukes in the Pacific, 1984.

Andrew Frost

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