Art for women’s rights

Political art: Pauline O'Shannessy-Dowling and Tas Wansbrough will have their work displayed at Parliament House. Picture: Kate Healy

Political art: Pauline O'Shannessy-Dowling and Tas Wansbrough will have their work displayed at Parliament House. Picture: Kate Healy

Ballarat artists Pauline O’Shannessy-Dowling and Tas Wansbrough both know art isn’t just about visual beauty – it’s also a powerful instrument for change.

The pair has teamed up to create the artistic project that is Podtastic – a blend of their names – a sculptural collection that examines the interaction between humans and the natural world.

Now that work will take a different turn as it takes pride of place in a new exhibition about to open at Parliament House in Melbourne, celebrating 125 years since Victorian women presented a petition with 30,000 signatures calling for women’s right to vote.

Both artists are recipients of Leadership Ballarat and Western Region’s artist scholarships – painter O’Shannessy Dowling in 2015 and sculptor Wansbrough this year. Both are passionate about furthering equality in art.

“Both of us are really excited about being part of this particular exhibition because it is about women and women’s rights. It fits in with Tas and my view’s of women artists, women getting more representation and getting more publicity,” O’Shannessy-Dowling said.

“It is well known that female artists aren’t as well represented in commercial galleries and other galleries. I think the issues around women and women’s rights and the way women are represented and seen in society and the community are the same in the arts community.”

However, O’Shannessy-Dowling said art gave women a special ability to speak.

“I suppose the medium gives us the ability to say things in all sorts of different ways,” she said.

“You can be delivering a message in a fairly subtle or ironic way if you wish, or it can be in your face. The way I work, with lots of vibrant colour, I personally to highlight my own perspective, to say here I am as a woman artist and I can put my message forward in any way I like.

“It’s a very personal and very self-directed thing. It becomes an opportunity to get out all kinds of messages.”

The exhibition will be open September 28 and 29 and October 3 and 4, at the Queen’s Hall.