De La Salle Catholic College Cronulla joins a global goal of highlighting forgotten artistic contributions

Dusting off valuable contributions: De La Salle Cronulla students have been researching the forgotten histories of women in art.
Dusting off valuable contributions: De La Salle Cronulla students have been researching the forgotten histories of women in art.

A global cultural partnership gave students fresh insights into the appreciation of women in art - a timely lesson during the month that marked International Women's Day.

De La Salle Catholic College Cronulla has been working with a group in Italy called Advancing Women Artists Foundation. 

The foundation is based in Florence and has a dedicated team of women art historians, curators and conservators who comb the basements and attic storerooms of the world’s greatest art museums.

They rediscover paintings by female artists whose works have been in storage for centuries under layers of dust.

The foundation raises funds to have these works restored and put on display to redress the gender imbalance in the historical record.

Earlier this month, museums, universities, libraries, galleries, community centres and other cultural institutions around the globe were invited to participate in 'AWA around the world' for Women’s Day, by organising the screening of a documentary on the restoration of art by women. The goal was to rediscover the cultural heritage of little known women artists.

HSC student, Meg Wade, has been researching Elisabetta Sirani, an artist from 16th century Bologna.

“Sirani ran her own art studio competing with the male artists on equal terms," she said. "She was famous in her lifetime, but then forgotten for centuries. Only recently, a Melbourne scholar, Adelina Modesti, resurrected her fame."

Jasmine Cruise researched Sister Plautilla Nelli, a nun in Renaissance Florence who ran her convent as a collaborative women’s art studio.

"Her Last Supper has only just been rediscovered, and is undergoing restoration before going back on display," she said.

College art teacher Byron Hurst says the global project widens students' horizons. 

"This program has been really empowering for the female students and an eye opener for the boys," he said. 

"The girls are finding inspiration in the women who have gone before them who have not been given their fair share of recognition by male art historians. They are very motivated to redress the imbalance."

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