Should there be positive discrimination towards female artists?

The Question

By Eileen Cooper RA and Helena Morrissey

Published 22 May 2014

Below is a small extract from the discussion published on the cited website:  Should there be positive discrimination towards female artists?

The extract quoted is from Eileen Cooper:

“We should, of course, think about the issues women of all professions face. But the art world has one unique challenge: art history. Contemporary artists are in constant dialogue with art history and, as a generalisation, art history is overwhelmingly about male artists. Although there is a very welcome, growing number of shows and books emphasising art made by women, the majority draw from the male canon. As we walk through the streets we are faced with art by men: in Westminster and the City less than one in 10 public artworks is made by a woman. No wonder our idea of an artist follows macho stereotypes – Renaissance man, tortured hero, the protean, philandering Picasso.

We can only do so much about the past. My worry is that unless we challenge preconceptions today as strongly as possible, in 100 years’ time younger generations will look upon 21st-century art as a male pursuit in the same way that we now regard earlier art. It is for this reason that institutions, including the RA, should consider some type of quota, formal or informal. As Chris Orr RA explains in this issue, the Academy’s artists elect themselves democratically. There is no conscious discrimination, but people naturally tend to vote for those similar to themselves, and at the RA that often means men.”

Well, I can only wholeheartedly agree, and I have been thinking about the matter myself for some time.  When things need a bit of a shake up, then sometimes the jammed up gates which kept women out need to be forcibly opened, if only to change the pictures hanging on the walls…  History is a unique challenge for any female artist…to look back and see, or rather, not to see,  your sisters highly held in public esteem… Oh dear!  Where are they?  They are dead and buried and their work has gone with them…Maybe to a better place, but leaving no trace, on which the next female flow of creativity can follow with the encouragement of knowing that, instead of futile fighting the way to the front, there might be some welcome embrace.

Well, there are a few resurrected females, as now attempts are made to dig them up…They existed and flourished and excelled in their time, but we have been robbed of their presence in our current experience of artistic endeavours.  It is always so nice to be remembered, if possible.  More importantly, what an inspiration another flourishing female is to those who follow on.  In my own life, it is the memory of several strong and inspirational women which has stayed with me and acts as an encouragement for moving forwards.


St Joachim’s Catholic Primary School in Newham Arts Week – Talk on “London Downpour”

Finally I am popping up this image, a better quality one than the first one I had available.  What a super afternoon I spent with the Year One class at St Joachim’s Catholic Primary School in Newham on July 2nd.   It was handy to bring in my past teaching skills and put them into action,  alongside talking about the painting…the children were very well engaged and very enthusiastic.  It’s such a nice age group.  I think there are many budding future artistic talents waiting to spring up over time!

artist talk school london downpour, jenny meehan artist talk at st joachim's catholic primary school 2014

jenny meehan artist talk at st joachim’s catholic primary school 2014 on painting techniques used in london downpour painting

I ran through the three main painting techniques, talked about how the painting  was mainly to express feelings and responses to the scene, not to make an accurate representation, and also took many questions about the painting and my work.  They discovered that tea leaves and sand (which I brought along in two small plastic bags!) were used in the painting, as well as small glass beads and acrylic paints.  I wasn’t able to stay around on that day and lead a workshop but some of the children experimented with some of the painting processes afterwards.  Here is one example:

jenny meehan st joachim's catholic school in newham childs painting example from artists talk in school

jenny meehan st joachim’s catholic school in newham childs painting example from artists talk in school

and another..

jenny meehan st joachim's catholic school in newham childs painting example from artists talk in school

jenny meehan st joachim’s catholic school in newham childs painting example from artists talk in school


Beautiful textures and colours there.  I was so glad to offer my time in this way.


“Silence,” Chittister continues, “is that place just before the voice of God…Silence is the cave through which the soul must travel, clearing out the dissonance of life as we go, so that the God who is waiting there for us to notice can fill us.”

Gosh, not sure where I found that… I tend to write this Journal in a very piecemeal fashion in little chinks of time splattered around the place and on a re-visit to do a little more writing I find this.  Such a jewel,   I cannot take it out, even if rather random.

Random things are great.  Recently I saw a little old lady ( kind of looked like a stereotypical Mrs Pepperpot type figure, almost from a story book) scooting along on a scooter…  She was going rather fast and whizzing along with gusto.  I looked down from the bus window as she scooted by and caught the smile of the person sitting opposite me as we realised the humour and beauty of the unexpected.   You don’t expect the elderly to travel by foot powered scooter…


Jenny Meehan – Newsletter for 2014

Just written this, ready to send out for the next exhibition in October.  I am pretty tired of exhibitions right now and just want to paint.  But when it gets nearer I will enjoy putting it together I know.

In the middle of Summer right now,   Autumn seems far away.  I won’t write of the dark nights yet  (sorry to even mention!!!) but  I am sending  you a quick update with a few items which might be of interest for some of you from September.

The exhibition “Jenny Meehan Prints”  runs from  28th September until 2nd November, but access to the venue is limited to the times they are open for other events.  This time around I will only be showing some past and present digital prints in the bar area, and I will not have an opening night event on this occasion.   The address of the CornerHouse is 116 Douglas Road, Surbiton, KT9 7SB  Take a look at their website for more details of how to get there and what is on.  You are welcome to pop in during any time the CornerHOuse is open for other events to take a look at the work on show.   I think they are planning an event for “The Big Draw” around the same time, (not confirmed.. just possible… ) So if you come along for that you might possibly view the work then.

Brief Update

It’s been a busy year…Packing in all the domestic activity, trying to develop a more contemplative focus generally,  and getting as much of my art work in as many places as possible.  Quite a challenge to do this, in my current circumstances, but it’s happening.   I’ve been putting my teaching qualifications to good use when holding painting and drawing workshops each month.  I’m going to take this creative workshop activity in a slightly different direction next year, with more linkage into the relationship between Christian Spirituality traditions and approaches, and also integrate poetry and text into the creative retreating spaces I provide.    This year’s activities have included a very rewarding school visit to St Joachim’s Primary School in Newham  where I gave a year one class an artist’s talk based on my painting “London Downpour”.   I brought eight artworks to the NewArt@Baker Tilly exhibition in Guildford, and showed on several occasions with my fellow artists from Kingston Artist’s Open Studios in both Tolworth and Richmond.   The “Sacred Spaces” Exhibition which I organised and curated at Leatherhead Theatre this year was a success with several pieces of work sold.  A very interesting and  rewarding part of it was the experience of facilitating a focused discussion with the artists taking part as part of the process.

As many of you know, I have a long term interest in mental health and wellbeing, particularly in relation to how art working is beneficial to people in this way, and so I have been particularly  delighted to have been offered this year the opportunity to show work as part of the “Speaking Out – Women Recovering from the Trauma of Violence ” exhibition at Leicester University and also to have work included in  the Institute of Mental Health’s “Recovery” Exhibition.   The “Rethinkyourmind” publication which includes one of my paintings was published this year, so with around 8,000 copies being printed I think that painting “Well Spring” will at least have plenty of viewings!

I don’t enter many competitions as this can often be very expensive, but I’m always on the hunt for opportunities which are free of charge, particularly if they are related to a charitable organisation or something of ethical value,  and one of these this year was  “Drawing Inspiration” organised by the  Holocaust Memorial Day Trust.  This juried exhibition awarded me “Highly Commended” which I was very grateful for.   Since October last year I have shown work in 13 exhibitions  (Phew!) but to be honest right now just want to go into “retreat” mode and simply get on with my work.   Balancing home management and raising a family with moving forward creatively will always be a challenge, but hopefully this brief summary will fill you in a little bit with respect to “What Do Artist’s Do All Day?” in case you were wondering.    I ramble on at “Jenny Meehan Artist’s Journal”…So do please sign up and follow me there if you would like monthly updates on what’s happening (or not).

Please do!  It will encourage me so much…

Kind regards

Jenny x


That’s it for now.  Now for a nice cup of tea  (fifth one  of the day, I think)


And here is some general information about Jenny Meehan Prints 2014 to be exhibited at the CornerHouse, Surbiton, Surrey.

Jenny Meehan –  Prints 2014

Photographic Prints

The aim in presenting this strand of my work is not to display the technical accomplishment aspect of photography,  but rather links into the personal, intimate and poetic, and this has determined the choice of presentation in prints which are no larger than A3 in size.  I also use a high degree of digital manipulation in my photographic work,  resulting in a blend of media possibly more true to Pictorialism.  It is the creating of the image as a way of projecting an emotional intent into the viewers realm of imagination[1]  which interests me.

[1] Daum, Patrick (Ed.) Impressionist Camera: Pictorial Photography in Europe, 1888-1918 (2006). Page 8





Well, from my liking of employing two titles for my painting, because of a love of ambiguity,  to an interesting and inspiring article by Richard L. Weddige. As you may know, my long term interest in the relationship between spirituality and psychotherapy is because I am  someone involved in both:  Spirituality in respect to my position as a Christian contemplative and artist, ( and my interest in the ministry of spiritual direction (I prefer the term “spiritual mentoring” and spiritual formation),  and psychotherapy as a result of my choice to engage in working through my own experiences and self through regular psychoanalysis/psychotherapeutic intervention.  I was very fortunate just over two years ago, as I struggled to continue to move forward in my life, to be able to access low fee therapy in a training arrangement…psychotherapy was previously a course of action I thought would always be beyond my financial means, and therefore not one I had considered.  I cannot express how helpful deciding to take this route forwards has been, and still is,  to me,  and it has helped me, and continues to help me, to negotiate my way forwards. (Even more than that, inspired me to leap forward into new challenges at times.)   My lot in life, not so much recently, but in the past, has been very traumatic and difficult,  particularly in my formative years, and I recognised my  need to engage in a recovery process with help of both  the human and spiritual varieties.

It saddens me considerably that there is seems to be a fairly strong  anti-psychotherapeutic intervention strand in some parts of the Christian church, who dismiss any “secular” counselling or psychotherapeutic interventions as un Godly or less “spiritual”  in some way.   My own experience has been very much a testimony to the opposite, and my engagement in therapy has had a fantastic and exciting relationship with the work of the Holy Spirit in my life.  And…I hasten to add, my therapist is, not to my knowledge, of the same faith, or even any faith, as far as I know.  In order to keep her screen nice and blank, she reveals nothing of her own alliances and faith orientation, if any.  But spirituality is still part of the process, and is most embraced and developed within the therapy process.  (I think this may be because the Holy Spirit rather likes any ministrations which bring light and truth and reality into lives).   I have also found that the material  I work on in therapy, and  the ground which is covered in the so named “spiritual direction” encounter, have a relationship which is far more intertwined than one might initially imagine…   I guess this depends very much on individual personalities and approaches, understandings and the quality of both the therapy and the spiritual mentoring/guidance seeking situation.

I really  think Christians ignore the wisdom of psychological insights and study at their peril  (and sometimes at the peril of many other people too!)

Well,  anyway, this is helpful and interesting…  I want to flag it up because I have found it, and find it rather a gem!

Ambiguity: Spiritual and Psychotherapeutic Aspects by Richard L. Weddige 

Permission to include the text below has been granted by it’s author.

Ambiguity: Spiritual and Psychotherapeutic Aspects Author(s): Richard L. Weddige Reviewed work(s): Source: Journal of Religion and Health, Vol. 33, No. 3 (Fall, 1994), pp. 253-258

This is a fragment, so do please refer to the whole article for a better picture of what I am looking at here, but here is the part I am reflecting over at the present time.

” Both in the symptoms of believers and patients, as well as in the ministrations of the clergy and therapists, there appear to be similar elements of the unknown, including a pronounced ambiguity.(U0) Themes common to both the spiritual realm and the psychological-psychiatric domain include many cognitive, feeling-state, and subjective issues. Most of these issues have ambiguity as a parameter. The common themes, with overlapping spiritual and dynamic issues, include the following:

1. unanswered questions of life

2. issues related to the soul/mind

3. “dark night of the soul”

4. unexplained anger

5. merging grief/mourning/depressive states
256 Journal of Religion and Health
6. guilt/remorse

7. acceptance/self-esteem

8. communion/relationship issues

9. confession/confiding

10. absolution

11. loneliness/desolation

12. abandonment issues

13. death/dying

14. ego boundary phenomenon

15. levels of consciousness

16. evil/demonic possession


(my comment, apologies re the odd copy and paste!) 
Integration  (my bold) 

A theoretical approach, a combined spiritual-dynamic one, to many of the perplexing ambiguous emotional issues of life might be of value to many.<1,2) A combined conceptual framework might also possibly be useful for people who embrace both a spiritual yearning and an openness to psychodynamic understanding, thereby in effect turning from any proselytizing approach. Conversion approaches are probably best left to full-time clergy, leaving a variety of suggested integrative approaches to symptom states such as the following:

1. Everything does not have to make finite sense in terms of dynamic or cognitive understanding. The mystery of an infinite being can be included. This may preclude impugning self or others.

2. An isolated or disconnected state can be fused with a continuous historicity, with connections to creation and the “collective unconscious.”

3. In cases of death and dying, elements of dynamic loss can be integrated with the full circle of life, from birth to death, and even perhaps to eternal existence.

4. Transference-like relationships can be strengthened to supportive, nurturing communities such as churches and other communities of believers.

5. The desperate loneliness of core-deficit disorders can be bolstered with the presence of religious figures.

6. The inability to effectively self-soothe can be enhanced by a transcendent presence.

7. Dark nights of the soul may imperceptively merge with clinical depressive states. Discernment or exact diagnosis may include careful scrutiny of both a spiritual and psychiatric diagnosis/1″

8. Guilt-ridden depressive symptoms can be partially ameliorated by spiritual confession. In many instances this may be performed in public, followed by absolution given by a spiritual leader.
Richard L. V?eddige 257
9. The art of waiting and the practice of solitude are often advocated by spiritual guides. The underlying idea is that understanding and in sight come to those who wait.

10. It would also seem that faith and the concept of basic trust are complementary. The promulgation of security and surety in one’s immediate surroundings enhances growth and ease in daily living.(6,8>

11. Passive-dependent yearnings and a need for approval are satisfied by the sense of complete approval and acceptance by an omniscient, powerful being.

12. The necessity of a grandiose, self-centered adaptive defence diminishes in the transcending presence of a powerful provider who can replenish and sustain primitive core-personality deficits.

13. The necessity of an all-sufficient self is also decreased by a religious or spiritual core-anchor during the ambiguous storms of life.

14. Prayer can become a form of productive working through, where tenets and hypotheses are linked to affective components. Prayer then be comes a between-the-session phenomenon whereby active healing and therapy continue.”

Above is only a partial extract from one of the best, most fundamentally useful and thoughtful things I have read for ages.

My thanks again for the permission to include here.  As said many times, I use this blog as a bit of a note taking/record keeping device.

And, to finish…

Another fine finding…

“My friend in God,

I earnestly beg you to look most attentively to the way and the method of your vocation.  And give God heartfelt thanks, so that you, by the help of his grace, may stand without flinching in the state, and stage, and manner of life that you have wholeheartedly entered upon, against all the wiles and assaults of your physical and spiritual foes, and may win through to the crown of everlasting life.  Amen”   an extract (page 58) taken from  The Cloud of Unknowing and Other Works translated into modern English – Penguin Books Copyright Cifton Wolters, 1961, 1978 p

Alabaster Loving - Abstract Painting by Jenny Meehan

Expression of stamina within the experience of brokenness.


Notice the brokenness, and no feet!

Bright and Breezy

Just sorting this out for delivery to the Dulwich Picture Gallery…

Bright and Breezy" Jenny Meehan Acrylic and Oil Painting, jenny meehan abstract colourist expressionistic, modernist lyrical abstraction,female british uk 21st century artist jenny meehan, contemporary painters in uk,

Bright and Breezy” Jenny Meehan Acrylic and Oil Painting
There’s a little memory from childhood of a tuft of a tree growing on the edge of a cliff



It is the soul, expressing the given gift…

without fear… In response to love

expressed, in the given gift, most perfectly


Christ.  Christ…

the ever living one, but more than one;

Traced in the timeless existence of each and every soul,

who, determined to serve,

and to be true;

vulnerable;  exposed to the light…

the light of the Spirit;  Ever searching,

always revealing,

always inviting


and into




“Move! Move! Move!, and move forward…

Come, and do not fear.

Jenny Meehan 5/9/2014 ….. in progress.  (probably needs some tweaking! )


A Letter in Mind –  The National Brain Appeal Art Event

“As part of our 30th anniversary celebrations we are planning an exciting exhibition called ‘A Letter in Mind’ which will be held at the central London exhibition space gallery@oxo in October 2014. For more information about the gallery@oxo click here

The exhibition will consist of visual responses to the title ‘A Letter in Mind’ realised on or in pre-supplied envelopes. The medium is determined by the artist; the envelopes can be drawn on, written in, collaged or even disassembled. The artworks will be priced at between £50-£100 and sold anonymously at the exhibition in aid of The National Brain Appeal.  Only when the purchaser buys the work will the artist’s name and biography be revealed.

I  have something in this, though of course won’t reveal what it is!

Looking forward to the Private View.


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