The Glasgow Society of Lady Artists (1882-1942): a feminist sanctum of opportunity, visibility and community?

Mailley-Watt, Karen (2021) The Glasgow Society of Lady Artists (1882-1942): a feminist sanctum of opportunity, visibility and community? PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

Due to Embargo and/or Third Party Copyright restrictions, this thesis is not available in this service.


The thesis investigates the Glasgow Society of Lady Artists (GSLA) as a multi-faceted and multi-generational feminist organisation that exceeds the parameters of conventional ‘artists’ clubs. The study proposes a number of questions related to the Club between 1882-1942. How did the Society help middle-to-upper class women manoeuvre through the professional and social circles of Glasgow? What tactics did members of GSLA use to support artists and producers?

The research conducted for this thesis included all memberships associated with GSLA, not just artists. Therefore, it provides a broader depiction of women’s connectivity, production and impact during the first period of feminist agitation for women’s equality c.1900-1920, when Glasgow was influential in shaping cultural and artistic trends as the second city of the Empire.

Building on previous scholarship including Burkhauser, Helland, Brownrigg and Deepwell, I argue that GSLA should be re-framed as a feminist organisation which fed into the larger Women’s Movement. Through a broader exploration of GSLA - and evidenced by new research - the thesis will investigate GSLA via three overarching themes; as a platform for visibility and community; as a conductor of connectivity across regional, national and international boundaries; and as a vehicle which created and expanded opportunities for women.

evaluate the policies and actions of GSLA in the light of successive historical and contemporary feminist voices and tactics. This is to demonstrate that although we are now in the midst of the fourth-wave of a feminism in 2020, tactics such as asserting a right to the city via the creation of women-only spaces; formation of collective identity and consciousness; and visibility platforms via women-only prizes are still used to amplify women’s voices in the art world. Did GSLA encounter the same problems regarding issues around gate-keeping and class-bias? The act of gatekeeping concerning any organisation or group is crucial to the understanding, reflectiveness and bias, conscious or not, of its membership body.

Although this research started as a re-investigation of the ‘Glasgow Girls’, through extensive primary research conducted locally, nationally and internationally, it quickly became apparent that even the established notion of the ‘Glasgow Girl’ had to be re-addressed. By utilising an array of methodologies (including micro-histories, creation of a members’ database, spatial and geographical analysis, biographical surveys and both quantitative and qualitative data analysis) this thesis aims to broaden and challenge the dominant scholarship associated with the GSLA.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Additional Information: Due to copyright issues this thesis is not available for viewing.
Subjects: N Fine Arts > NX Arts in general
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts > School of Culture and Creative Arts > History of Art
Supervisor's Name: Wieber, Dr. Sabine and Robertson, Dr. Frances
Date of Award: 2021
Embargo Date: 18 October 2024
Depositing User: Theses Team
Unique ID: glathesis:2021-82520
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 19 Oct 2021 08:43
Last Modified: 26 Oct 2021 14:37
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.82520

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