INTERVIEW: Women Artists of the North East Library | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image: (L-R) Holly Argent & Rene McBrearty in the Women Artists of the North East Library space in The Northern Charter, Newcastle

Artists Holly Argent and Rene McBrearty have embarked on a mission: to create a library of female artists of the North East. Based at The Northern Charter, an established artist-led organisation in the heart of Newcastle city centre, these two women are passionate about raising the profile of women artists in the region. Female painters, sculptors, musicians, poets, writers, dancers and anyone who expresses themselves in a fresh, creative way are welcomed, making for a fascinating initiative.

Holly and Rene both graduated in Fine Art from Newcastle University, during their course they diversified into various cross-disciplinary art forms; Holly now works from a studio in The Northern Charter and Rene is based at The NewBridge Project. They’re focussing their research and attention on women artists with a connection to the North East, and any woman who’s had any impact on the region’s art scene deserves to be recognised for her contribution.

Throughout this six-month residency, the two women are looking to build a resource for and inspired by the women artists of the region both past and present. Open Library days are held once a fortnight where Holly and Rene are available to receive personal donations that will be held in the library collection for all to browse and be inspired by.

The library’s intention is to create evidence that we exist

“We love to meet with other artists and hear about their experiences. This is about creating a network, a community of artists in the region who can support and encourage each other. We welcome any donation: a flyer for a performance, a catalogue from an exhibition, a recording, an original piece of artwork…we will try to accommodate it all.” Holly enthuses.

The space is ready. The walls and the shelves are waiting to be filled by donations. There’s an expectancy here. As the library expands, there will be documentation for each donation and a reference system in place which will create directory of women artists. This inspirational project is in its infancy and yet there’s a real buzz about this venture; there’s nothing else out there like it.

There’s a desire within the arts community to come together in a common passion for creativity; stand together against the invisibility of women in the art world and share together to enable each woman artist in the region to fully develop her own expression. “It’s been very moving meeting the women who’ve come into the space and reading their comments.” Says Rene. “There are so many women artists working in the region. One woman said ‘I haven’t made art in twenty years. I’m now experimenting at home in my living room again.’ Many women are making art outside of traditional institutions and we’re interested in what’s been happening behind those closed doors. One artist donated ‘to show my children that women have always and continue to create art work.’ The library’s intention is to create evidence that we exist.”

Join Holly and Rene on this exciting creative journey by attending one of their Open Library sessions, with the next one scheduled for Saturday 9th December, or visit the Library to peruse the ever-expanding collection until April 2018.

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