What’s Female Art Got To Do With Interiors?
March 12, 2017

What's female art got to do with interiors?

- get to know The Great Women Artists

International Women’s Week may be over, but here at Topology HQ, we are still celebrating. This week I caught up with Katy Hessel, creator of The Great Women Artists – an instagram account that shares pictures of fabulous female art everyday…

…what’s it got to do with interiors? A lot actually! Interiors have always played a big part in art and in artists’ works it’s often the home (or sometimes a single sentimental household object) that empowers the female artist behind the canvas.

‘Located on the Italian coast, the dazzling house filled with mosaic mirror rooms fuses art and interior design like no other’

TGWA is gaining recognition and was recently featured in the Evening Standard. They’re also collaborating with Amarcord to design some cool t-shirts. Check them out

I love getting daily updates of female art from your instagram! How did the idea for ’The Great Women Artists’ come about?

Thank you! I came up with ‘The Great Women Artists’ after realising that I had not seen a single female artist exhibited at a major art fair in October 2015. Having been both an art and insta-fanatic for a while, I thought it was time I did something about the under-representation of female artists. With social media continuing to boom, Instagram seemed an accessible platform to plant my knowledge.

When you think about art and interior design, which artist immediately comes to mind?

Niki de Saint Phalle and her wonderous ‘Giardino dei Tarocchi’. Located on the Italian coast, the dazzling house filled with mosaic mirror rooms fuses art and interior design like no other. The gardens encompass dozens of her playful sphinx-like sculptures that make up waterfalls to both exterior and interior details. Memphis Group leader, Nathalie du Pasquier also combines her jazzy and eccentric furniture designs to art – Bowie was a huge fan!

‘Giardino dei Tarocchi’ by Niki de Saint Phalle. Photo from Ansiapop


Another photo of ‘Giardino dei Tarocchi’. Source: BAA

One of Nathalie du Pasquier’s chairs. Source: Pinterest

A lot of homes reflect the owner’s identity, and many artists do the same in their work. Could you tell us about a couple of female artists who feature their homes / certain interiors in their work? What is their relationship to their home?

Frida Kahlo’s home in Mexico City (now a museum commemorating her life’s work) is almost an artwork in itself. From the hand-painted files to the pots, pans and door-handles, Frida’s home is completely reminiscent of her paintings and her love for bright colours (and life!). Profound South African Outsider artist, Helen Martins, also transformed her deserted home, ‘The Owl House’, into a “visionary environment” as she filled every inch with concrete animalistic sculptures and crushed glass.

Frida Kahlo & Diego Rivera Archive, Mexico City. Photo from the Guardian

Is there one artist that stands out who is influenced by their home environment?

I think both the physical and emotional ‘home environment’ have an enormous effect on artist’s work. Certainly, the psychological trauma experienced by Yayoi Kusama as a child had a profound impact on her work, and as a result, she experienced hallucinations in the form of dots. In the world of Kusama she sees polka dots everywhere, and if we immersive ourselves in one of her Pumpkin Mirror Rooms or even just gaze at her Infinity Nets, we can understand how she sees the world.

One of my favourite artists right now, Njdeka Akunyili Crosby also uses the home in a very nostalgic way. Her interiors are beautifully Modernist, but look deeper into the pastel coloured wallpapers and wicker chairs, and you find photographic memories from her childhood in Nigeria.

Works by Njdeka Akunyili Crosby. Picture credits: left – Trendland; above – Whitney Museum of Modern Art.

Picture from Crosby’s website.

Are there any female artists who accentuate certain homeware items in their art? If so what are they?

One of the most powerful works in the History of Art is Judy Chicago’s “The Dinner Party”. Modelled on a dining table, this piece celebrates and commemorates the life and work of thirty-nine iconic women throughout history with unique chalices and plates all artistically reflecting the legacy the women left on the world.

Judy Chicago’s “The Dinner Party” – picture from Art of the MOOC

From your knowledge of how women represent themselves in art, what do you think empowers women in their homes?

Whenever I visit artists in their studios or even see the bedrooms and homes of people I know, they are constantly surrounded by postcards, quotes, prints, posters and books that inspire them everyday. Female artists empower other female artists, as its strange to say but we are a minority, so being surrounded by work or notes empowers women in their homes.

What do you think people should consider when choosing art work for their home?

People should consider sculptures, prints, posters or paintings that they love and that will always bring them joy. Art should be something you see yourself in – or reflects you as a person – so having these works surround you everyday should give life not just to your interior space but to yourself.

Over the past seven days I’ve seen tons of stories of inspirational women – successful careers, bravery, humanitarianism – but also small projects like TGWA. Basically there’s an abundance of badass girl bosses out there and it makes me proud.

Keep updated on GREAT WOMAN ART here

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