Irish women artists to show at $€X¥ in the snow

Swiss exhibition’s feminist curators highlighting gender imbalance in the art world

Three emerging Irish women artists have been invited to exhibit their works in Gstaad, the Swiss winter fairyland famed for snowy slopes, gingerbread chalets, chocolates and champagne.

Entitled $€X¥, which stands for Secure, Enthusiast, Exponential and Young at heart, the new exhibition was established to give an international platform to women artists, and runs this weekend in the alpine hamlet.

The initiative is the brainchild of Spanish artist Leticia de Prado, and is organised by ArtsFemin, a group of feminist curators and artists who are dedicated to empowering women and addressing gender imbalance in the art world.

ArtsFemin say they pay particular attention to emerging women artists who are not represented by major galleries or exhibition spaces, and have organised the show in advance of International Women’s Day on March 8th.


Statistics compiled by sociologist Taylor Whitten Brown for The Art Market 2019, and produced by Art Basel, confirm that the art world is not one of gender parity. Works by women artists have a tiny slice of permanent collections in Europe and the United States, and not only do women's artworks sell for significantly less than men's, only two works by women have ever broken the top 100 auction sales, despite women being the subject matter for the top 25 works.

Women, as noted elsewhere in the Art Market 2019 report, major in the arts at higher proportions than men. An example of artistic difference can be found in the textile industry, a sector which is dominated by women.


However, this may just well date back to the Bauhaus days, when women produced a great number of textile works, as they were told to stay away from architecture and design as men had a better grasp of three-dimensional works.

Global statistics show that under 30 per cent of galleries represent women artists, and sales in major art fairs of women works is only on average about 15 per cent compared with their male counterparts.

But perhaps Ireland is finally addressing the issue of gender imbalance within the art world.

Last year the National Gallery of Ireland featured the exhibition [In]Visible: Irish Women Artists from the Archives, which showcased archival material relating to Irish women artists to shed light on the education, career and recognition of women such as Mary Swanzy, Sarah Purser and Mainie Jellett. The board of the National College of Art and Design has, since 2018, a gender ratio of 36 per cent men and 64 per cent women.

The works by the three Irish women in $€X¥, which will sit beside the art of 55 women from 35 countries, could not be more different.

Niamh O’Connor, a visual artist from north Co Dublin who lives and works in Monaghan, says her work as a mixed-media artist, “carries the weight of a thousand stories” inspired by all around her, “including housing, homelessness, health and recovery”.

Calming water scenes

Dublin-born Fran Halpin has been working internationally as a full-time commercial artist since her graduation from Dublin Institute of Technology Fine Art in 1997. Her absolute passion lies in painting calming water scenes, and high-resolution pebbles, with the intention "to create a sensorial and emotive connection with her audience".

Miriam Fitzgerald Juskova, a Slovakian-born Irish artist based in Cavan, is known for the work which she calls Paper on Edge, based on an old traditional technique of paper quilling. By combining her passion for mathematics and geometry, she has introduced a new visual art language. Her entry for the show is Endless Bravery, of which she says, "I try to capture how it feels when we step into uncertainty."

The exhibition runs this weekend at the Huus Hotel in Gstaad, Switzerland.