Grace Ware is a self-taught local artist from Traralgon, and a member of the Alt_Art community, who has brought her creativity, passion and drive to Federation University, where she is studying fine arts. You can learn more on the talented Grace through her interview with Gippslandia Arts Columnist, Kaitlyn Francis.
Here, Grace shares the aim and progress of her latest project, Gippslandian Women, a query relating to women’s safety and their opportunities in our region. It’s been guided by a series of personal interviews and data collection, as well as Grace’s striking illustrations and textile sculptures.
What do you think of when you hear the word feminism? Does it make your skin crawl? Do you roll your eyes and say, “Ugh, what a dirty word”? Why are our women so afraid to be associated with the word? And how does our misunderstanding of feminism affect our outlook on society, ourselves and our bodies? Nowadays, feminism has such a negative connotation attached to it and it’s time we change that.
Growing up as a local Gippslandian woman, I have had many questions surrounding feminism, and my health and safety as a young woman, which have caused me to feel quite isolated. I have never really felt there was a local safe space for me to discuss these thoughts. So, I thought STUFF IT! Why not just create that space?
I want to create a safe space for all female-identifying Gippslandians to celebrate, embrace and inspire each other. This space can bring attention to the beauty of being a Gippslandian woman and the importance of education around our health and safety. Gippslandian Women is a BOLD, HONEST and something UNSEEN before by a local audience. Gippslandian Women will listen to our local women, and provide a unique opportunity to be able to share our own experiences and opinions on what it is like to be a woman in Gippsland through an interactive local exhibition.
By collaborating with Gippsland Women’s Health and reaching out to local women, I have collected data on how we feel in terms of safety and opportunities, and how we feel about our female identity. The results are beautiful and very interesting. The majority of local women thought that femininity was associated with feminism, weird right? Of the local women surveyed, 41% said that “there are times where I don’t feel safe, but I’m okay with it”, and 50% are hard-working powerhouses who believe that they “feel capable of finding opportunities in Gippsland, but that [they] have to work a lot harder”.
Gippslandian Women karate kicks down the stigmas around feminism, women’s health and safety, allowing women to think more freely about themselves and their bodies with confidence and understanding. Our local women have powerful voices; it’s just about providing a platform for these voices to be heard and with the help of Gippslandian Women, these voices will continue to get LOUDER and LOUDER. You just watch.