A new award for women artists worth £100,000 has been launched by the Freelands Foundation, a visual arts charity ‘with a mission to support artists and cultural institutions’.

The annual Freelands Artist Award will enable a regional arts organisation in the UK to present an exhibition, including a significant new work, by a mid-career female artist living and working in the UK.

It is being launched in direct response to last year’s Representation of Women Artists report. Written by the curator and academic Charlotte Bonham-Carter and commissioned by the foundation, it found that although female art and design graduates outnumber men, women are not adequately represented at, and beyond, a mid-career point.

The report shows that of solo shows featured in the exhibition programmes of 134 commercial galleries in London in 2012-13, only 31% of the represented artists were women. In addition, of 43 non-commercial galleries outside London in 2014-15, only 40% of the shows were by female artists.

Woefully under-represented

Elisabeth Murdoch, the former television executive and Tate trustee who set up the foundation in 2015, said: “Women artists in mid-career are still woefully under-represented in the art world and this award aims to raise their profile.

“Of course it is a challenging place to be for all artists but, as our research has shown, this is particularly the case with women. I want this award to be about pushing boundaries and helping regional arts organisations fulfil their potential.”

The selection panel for the award winner is: Elisabeth Murdoch (chair), curator Teresa Gleadowe, the artist Phyllida Barlow, Camden Arts Centre director Jenni Lomax, and Martin Clark, director of Kunsthall, Bergen, Norway and artistic director of Art Sheffield 2016.

A shortlist of six regional organisations will be released in summer 2016, and the winner of the inaugural award will be announced in autumn 2016.

Image: Freelands Artist Award judge Phyllida Barlow. Photo: © Thierry Bal, courtesy Phyllida Barlow, Hauser & Wirth and Modern Painters

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