The Ladies Network: the collective girl gang taking the art world by storm.
Attention! This is a public service announcement to creative women everywhere: your talents are not a hobby. They are important, worthy and fucking brilliant, so why not show the whole god damn world what you can do?
The wonderful women at The Ladies Network are doing just that. They’re taking the work of creative chicks, chucking it up on a wall in bright lights and saying, “Hey, look at what you’ve created! Look how amazing you are! Let’s all have a glass of wine and celebrate you and your creative endeavours!” And you know what, it’s about bloody time.
The Ladies Network was birthed during an experimental art showing titled ‘The Ladies’, an all female show that did the aforementioned art celebrating, wine drinking, female empowering stuff. The Ladies were a little overwhelmed with the success of the show which ended up laying the foundations for the wide array of mediums that TLN is now leaving their scent on. Editor of the site, Arabella Peterson, looks back on the initial success of that debut art show and says that she too was surprised by how well it took off.
“I think that’s because people were feeling similarly disheartened by the ‘boys-club’ nature of the art scene and an all-female show with a super positive and encouraging vibe was something that was really lacking,” she said.
“Something that we noticed within the art world and among people we knew was that all our talented and creative female friends downplayed their skills and were reluctant to show anyone their work. There are so many dudes who have the confidence to put on solo shows and really promote their work, which is fantastic because they are very talented, but women with the same level of skill and experience often aren’t even willing to label themselves an artist let alone put on a solo show.”
The success of their show made them think that perhaps The Ladies Network could extend beyond casual events and into… well… a network. So, as is expected from a collective approach the varying talents and skills of other women were sourced and TLN spread their wings into the social media world with a website, Facebook following and newly created online art store.
“I think all of us are still in slight disbelief about how rapidly TLN is growing. If you told us this time last year what we’d be doing now, I think we’d be pretty surprised!”
The Ladies aim to combat the stereotype that the art world is exclusively a male space and encourage women to see their talents as a viable career option. While some people have labelled this movement as ‘sexist’ the team behind TLN believe that it’s important to exhibit female talents and the purpose is not to bar male involvement but rather create a safe and supportive environment for women to allow their talents to flourish and develop.
“We think the best thing to do when handling criticism is open up a respectful and rational dialogue. Sometimes people will say things out of lack of understanding or without actually knowing what TLN does, but being willing to listen to other opinions and engage in meaningful discussion is so much more productive than saying uninformed or offensive things online for the sake of it.”
“Women can achieve wonderful things when they work together”
Arabella says that she first realised that TLN had potential when they received their first fan (e) mail from a young girl named Ruby who lived outer state.
“I realised that what we were doing was important and could really make a difference when [she] e-mailed us to let us know how inspired she was by TLN. We get messages like that now and they’re just so lovely and humbling. Every time we get presented with an exciting opportunity we just feel really grateful to be able to do what we love and work with amazing creative women,” she said.
With a rise in digital content and online publications Arabella says that there can be a lot pressure to define your own ‘personal brand’, however watching the ever increasing support and success of TLN, she is definitely right in saying that often it’s a much better option to work in collaboration rather than spotlighting as an individual.
“I think it can often be so much more rewarding to collaborate with likeminded people and share your successes. There has been an especially huge rise in female collaborations, I think it’s a reactionary thing against societal expectations that we are in competition and rivals for the spotlight. Women achieve wonderful things when they work together.”
The Ladies Network is all about giving creative women a leg up and allowing them to express and realise their talents in a nurturing and supportive environment. These Ladies are working towards a truly inspirational mission and killing it along the way.
“Some advice I would give to creative twenty-something’s is don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and approach people with an idea or ask for advice – rejection sucks, but it’s crucial for learning and it’s an inevitable part of being in the creative industries. Also, try not to compare yourselves to everyone else in their twenties, which is challenging,” she said.
“Everyone achieves different things at different ages and while it’s good to stay motivated, understand that it’s not productive to feel jealous of people around you who are accomplishing great things. Support each other and learn from each other and great things will happen. Don’t undervalue your skills, nurture your talent and just work exceptionally hard!”