International Women's Day - Total Guide to Bath interview with Sandra
I am so pleased to have been interviewed by Phoebe from Total Guide To for IWD. Taking time to reflect on some of the wonderful women who inspire me has truly been a nourishing experience. Click here to visit Total Guide To Bath for the full feature.
To discover more about International Women's Day visit internationalwomensday.com and #BreakTheBias
Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Sandra Higgins, I am an Independent Art Advisor and Curator based in Bath and London. I recently launched my online gallery and website, presenting a selection of established living artists, exhibiting their works to support them in their careers.
If you are a woman in business – has your gender worked positively or negatively for you?
I have never let my gender stop me from achieving all that I want to in the art world. I am proud to have been one of the few female Vice-Chairman of the Chelsea Arts Club since its founding as a club for men only in 1891, and while equality has yet to be achieved, more women have held the role since.
Can you share details of three women – famous, alive or not – who inspire you?
Margaret Mead was a pioneering cultural anthropologist from America. Mead was often seen as controversial figure academically, and she influenced the 60s sexual revolution in the US bringing a female gaze to a then male-dominated field. Mead was often criticised for her personal relationships and approach to raising her children, but I admire that she carried on working and travelling regardless, as any man of her time would have been given licence to do.
Leonora Carrington was a British-Mexican surrealist artist and a founding member of the women's liberation movement in 1970s Mexico and North America. I became increasingly aware of her political achievements during the time I spent living in Colombia, having been familiar with her artwork. Carrington’s activism and energy were fuelled by her belief that women’s physical freedom cannot be achieved until their political freedom is also accomplished. Carrington won the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Women's Caucus for Art convention in New York in 1986.
When growing up I studied dance and wanted to be Isodora Duncan! Duncan was a professional dancer who flaunted conventional standards in both her private and professional lives. Duncan’s innovative approach to dance gave birth to the Evolutionary Movement, which earned her a great following, and led to her being named ‘The creator of modern dance as we know it today.’ She opened a number of influential dance schools in her lifetime.
Can you share details of three women in business in your circles who inspire you?
Marian Goodman is one of the most respected and influential gallerists in the world. She has a symbiotic relationship with her artists, she is loyal to them, and caring, in the traditional way. I find her gallery one of the most outstanding there is, with an admirable stable of artists.
Frances Morris is one of the rising stars of the art world. Having joined Tate as a Curator in 1987, Morris was appointed as Director for Tate Modern in 2016. The programme of exhibitions she has been responsible for, including many female artists, has seen Tate Modern become one of the most admired contemporary art museums in the world.
I met Phillipa Adams when I was working in Colombia, where she co-founded Barcú art fair, known as the most important and inclusive art fair in the Southern American continent. Adams is a terrific Curator and Art Advisor. During her 20 years as Director of Saatchi Gallery, Adams worked directly with Charles Saatchi setting the standard for the contemporary art world as we know it.
Can you share details of three women close to you who inspire you?
I am so inspired by Fiona McIntyre, whose work is currently included in my online gallery. McIntyre is a British painter and traveller whose tenacity and dedication to her work impress me over and over. McIntyre is so sensitive to the work, her process, even grinding her own pigments… she is very dedicated and talented.
Maria Cristina Pignalosa is a Colombian Journalist & Art Critic I met when working in Colombia. I admire her editorial expertise, her artistic knowledge and insightful interpretation. Pignalosa is an excellent writer, published in many prominent Colombian publications, including City Paper in Bogota.
Patricia Poullain is an Irish-French artist who, now in her 90s, is as fun and awe-inspiring as ever. Poullain’s vigour is boundless, she is so attentive in her work, her acute sense of colour and line are exceptional. I have had a lot of fun with Poullain, while curating her work and socially, and I love her healthy attitude to experiencing everything life has to offer.
What do you think can be done to really #breakthebias?
We need to recognise the glass ceiling and persevere, be tenacious and keep going, to continuously challenge the barriers ahead of us. Set your goals and don’t let anyone stop you!
Are you doing anything at all to mark IWD 2022?
As part of my ongoing series of ‘Sandra’s Salon’ artist talks, I have invited Bristol-based poet Suzannah V. Evans to share her words, and talk with me and the audience about her recent residency in Underfall Yard, a working boatyard in Bristol. I look forward to giving a platform to her take on this traditionally masculine working environment.
Is there anything else you’d like to say?
It is empowering to see the noticeable female presence when you look at the recent Directors of London’s biggest art galleries (Frances Morris at Tate Modern, Jenni Lomax at Camden Arts Centre, Brett Rogers at The Photographers Gallery, Iwona Blazwick at Whitechapel Gallery and more)
I feel that women in the arts stand more of a chance of infiltrating male-dominated roles, there is more of an opportunity to achieve balance. It has now been recognised that fewer female artists have represented in major collections and museums for far too long, and this is being broken down by people like the Directors above, as part of a strong movement focussing on female and non-binary artists.
The art world has a real opportunity to stand at the head of the ongoing movement towards equality.