Sydney Harbour Bridge

Sydney Harbour Bridge

Grace Cossington Smith – The Gender Gap

Each time I pass under that bridge, usually on the ferry from Pyrmont to Circular Quay, it catches my gaze. Sturdy, steely and with a huge span. It must be one of the most photographed, iconic landmarks in Sydney.

For Grace Cossington Smith it was maybe symbolic of her artist struggles. Her thoughts are probably just as relevant today as when she painted it in 1930. When I turn over the pages of the art book which features The Bridge in-curve, I see her drawings and notes. They appear very masculine and architectural. On closer inspection, I see they are painter’s notes and tonal notes: ‘bright rear tones to further tones’.

The gap for me is the interesting bit. Female artists at this time were typically left with domestic scenes and interiors as subjects. She was trying to make her way in a male-dominated art world with limited access to outdoor scenes. Even today that bridgely gap still exists for women, the difference is that now we are talking about it.                                Deirdre Keenaghan


Copyright: Text Deirdre Keenaghan. Painting Grace Cossington Smith from the book ‘Grace Cossington Smith’ by Deborah Hart (ed) National Gallery of Australia 2005.

Leave a Comment

We would be glad to get your feedback. Take a moment to comment and tell us what you think.