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This online exhibition contains a selection of artworks by accomplished women artists represented in the University of Dundee Museum Collections. Their work is as varied in subject and technique as these women were in personality, experience and background. Some of the women represented here achieved outstanding success, helping to define the artistic movements and eras in which they participated. Others were less well-known in their day but deserve greater appreciation. Some are still actively shaping their careers today.
The exhibition has been curated by museum intern Mattea Gernentz.

20 artworks

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Self Portrait
© the artist. Photo credit: University of Dundee, Duncan of Jordanstone College Collection

This portrait is a fascinatingly layered examination of the self. The artist is looking in the mirror in order to paint herself, but it appears that the figure simultaneously paints the viewer. Every woman paints from her own experience but, in doing so, she has absorbed the narratives of those who have gone before and also sets the tone for those who follow. Here, Forsyth captures this connection and concept of circularity.

Self Portrait 1980
Shirley Forsyth (b.1959)
Oil on canvas
H 31 x W 36 cm
University of Dundee, Duncan of Jordanstone College Collection

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Greenhouse
© Janet Tod. All rights reserved, DACS 2022. Photo credit: University of Dundee, Duncan of Jordanstone College Collection

Janet Tod studied at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art from 1968-72, winning a travelling scholarship and then staying in an artists’ colony in Yugoslavia. She moved to London in 1978 and has continued to exhibit widely since. In Greenhouse (painted at Hospitalfield), Tod infuses a mundane scene with splendour, making the greenhouse appear as wild and lush as a contained jungle.

Greenhouse 1971
Janet Tod (b.1948)
Oil on canvas
H 86 x W 96.5 cm
University of Dundee, Duncan of Jordanstone College Collection

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Still Life with Roses
© the copyright holder. Photo credit: University of Dundee Fine Art Collections

Margaret McGavin was a still life artist who was influenced by the Scottish Colourists and the aesthetic movements of the 1950s. She was a member of the Scottish Society of Women Artists and exhibited regularly with the Royal Scottish Society of Painters in Watercolour. Her paintings, such as this one, have an atmospheric calm and a sense of balance and order.

Still Life with Roses
Margaret McGavin (1924–2004)
Oil on board
H 51 x W 55 cm
University of Dundee Fine Art Collections

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Untitled
© the artist's estate. Photo credit: University of Dundee, Duncan of Jordanstone College Collection

Lil Neilson studied at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art from 1956-61 before being awarded a scholarship to travel to France and Italy. She was a friend of Joan Eardley, painting with her at Catterline, and they influenced each other’s artistic practice. This whimsical student painting focuses on the power of music and the calming atmosphere it can bring. Neilson may have painted it while studying at Hospitalfield.

Untitled c.1960
Lilian Strang Neilson (1938–1998)
Oil on board
H 122 x W 183 cm
University of Dundee, Duncan of Jordanstone College Collection

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Memphis II
© the artist. Photo credit: University of Dundee Fine Art Collections

Moyna Flannigan lives and works in Edinburgh, having studied at Edinburgh College of Art and Yale University School of Art. Her work has been exhibited widely at such institutions as the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, and Edinburgh City Art Centre. This is an early work of hers, and its colours are fanciful and free, contrasted with the later development of her practice to include darker tones, collage, and commentary on the representation of women’s bodies in art.

Memphis II 1991
Moyna Flannigan (b.1963)
Oil on canvas
H 92 x W 79 cm
University of Dundee Fine Art Collections

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Or Else
© the artist. Photo credit: University of Dundee, Duncan of Jordanstone College Collection

Melanie Stokes was born in London and raised in Scotland. Since her Fine Art degree from Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art in Dundee, she has studied and worked in Switzerland, France, Edinburgh, Cornwall, and London. Her work is deeply inspired by natural processes and rhythms, especially those of the sea. Here, bold symbols and geometric patterns are challenged by more free-flowing shapes and strokes, reminiscent of waves and water droplets. This painting was exhibited at the Society of Scottish Artists.

Or Else 1994
Melanie Sara Stokes (b.1964)
Oil on canvas
H 231 x W 201 cm
University of Dundee, Duncan of Jordanstone College Collection

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Overflow
© Wilhelmina Barns-Graham Trust. Photo credit: University of Dundee Fine Art Collections

Wilhelmina Barns-Graham was heavily inspired by the work of the polymath biologist D’Arcy Thompson, whom she met as a child in her native St Andrews. Themes and ideas from his book On Growth and Form pervade her art. The sea was a common muse for Barns-Graham, and here she sharply captures the dynamism of a surging wave. She remains one of the most renowned abstract artists in Britain and a pivotal figure amongst the influential women of art history.

Overflow 1980
Wilhelmina Barns-Graham (1912–2004)
Ink & gouache on card
H 40 x W 27 cm
University of Dundee Fine Art Collections

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Untitled
© the artist. Photo credit: University of Dundee, Duncan of Jordanstone College Collection

Jacqueline Marr has been described as one of Scotland’s finest figurative contemporary artists, and her use of light echoes techniques pioneered by Caravaggio and Rembrandt. Her work has been exhibited extensively throughout Europe. The women in this painting are bound together, a theme emphasised by the rope included, connected by gaze and stance. They are reminiscent of the Muses in their white toga-like ensembles, foregrounded by a flash of red.

Untitled 1998
Jacqueline Marr (b.1977)
Oil on canvas
H 187 x W 157 cm
University of Dundee, Duncan of Jordanstone College Collection

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Johnnie Faa III
© the artist. Photo credit: University of Dundee, Duncan of Jordanstone College Collection

Following her Degree Show at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design, Renee Hunter was selected for RSA New Contemporaries, where she won the Glasgow Print Studio Award and RSA Landscape Award. This screenprint is from a series modernising the traditional story of Johnnie Faa, the Gypsy king. In the tale, Faa and his lover, Lady Jean, meet an untimely end after a short-lived affair. The Earl, Lady Jean’s husband, hangs Johnnie, and Lady Jean wastes away, locked inside a room.

Johnnie Faa III 2019
Renee Hunter (b.1997)
Screenprint on paper
H 42 x W 58 cm
University of Dundee, Duncan of Jordanstone College Collection

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Pleasant Dreams
Photo credit: University of Dundee Fine Art Collections

Existing among just a handful of women pre-Raphaelite artists, Emma Sandys’ art shines in its rich tones and symbolism. This work was once miscategorised as being done by her brother, Frederick Sandys, but has since been reattributed. Sandys depicts women from mythology and legend in reverie, often surrounded by flowers to emphasise their youth and beauty. Holly leaves, as seen in the upper left corner, were thought to ensure a pleasant night’s sleep when placed under the bed.

Pleasant Dreams 1876
Emma Sandys (1843–1877)
Oil on canvas
H 44 x W 32 cm
University of Dundee Fine Art Collections

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Peonies
Photo credit: University of Dundee Fine Art Collections

Known affectionately as the 'Empress of the Roses', flowers were a common motif throughout Madeleine Lemaire’s elegant works. At her mansion on the Rue de Monceau, she frequently held a salon for Parisian high society, where her guests included Marcel Proust. Lemaire exhibited her art at the Palace of Fine Arts and the Woman's Building at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago. She even received the Légion d'honneur in 1906. In the language of flowers, peonies symbolise bravery, honour and good luck.

Peonies
Madeleine Jeanne Lemaire (1845–1928)
Watercolour on paper
H 50 x W 71 cm
University of Dundee Fine Art Collections

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Rhododendron Flower
© the copyright holder. Photo credit: University of Dundee Fine Art Collections

Edith Philip Smith was one of the first women to receive a degree from the University of Oxford in 1920. After receiving a PhD from Edinburgh, she became a Botany lecturer at University College, Dundee, later becoming head of the department. As interested as she was in science, she was equally artistic, maintaining a status as an exhibiting member of the Society of Scottish Artists. This watercolour exhibits the merging of her life’s two main passions.

Rhododendron Flower 1927
Edith Philip Smith (1897–1976)
Watercolour on card
H 31 x W 19 cm
University of Dundee Fine Art Collections

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Woodland Scene
Photo credit: University of Dundee Fine Art Collections

Patti Jack was the University of Dundee’s first female lecturer, teaching Fine Art at University College, Dundee from 1889-1900. She was beloved by her students, and her courses in life drawing and landscape painting were very popular. Jack had studied in Paris and at Herkomer’s in England. She exhibited at the Royal Scottish Academy and the Dundee Fine Art Exhibitions, and in 1900 she emigrated to Canada, becoming an active part of Ottawa’s art scene.

Woodland Scene 1900s
Martha Sharpe Forrester (Patti) Jack (1855–1908)
Watercolour on paper
H 64 x W 45 cm
University of Dundee Fine Art Collections

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Landscape
© the copyright holder. Photo credit: University of Dundee, Duncan of Jordanstone College Collection

Irene Halliday earned scholarships at Arbroath High School and Dundee College of Art, completing her postgraduate training there in 1953. She travelled extensively throughout Italy, France, and Greece, and enjoyed a successful career as both artist and art teacher. Many of her paintings, such as this student work, depict her native Arbroath.

Landscape 1953
Irene Halliday (b.1931)
Oil on canvas
H 59 x W 105 cm
University of Dundee, Duncan of Jordanstone College Collection

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Coast Road, Greece
© the artist's estate. Photo credit: University of Dundee Fine Art Collections

Born in India, Winifred McKenzie was raised in Scotland from 1913 and studied at Glasgow School of Art. Based in St Andrews, she and her sister Alison both found success as painters and printmakers. Winifred joined the staff of Dundee College of Art (now Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design) from 1944-57 where she introduced the teaching of wood engraving. She continued to paint until the age of 90.

Coast Road, Greece c.1978
Winifred McKenzie (1905–2001)
Oil on canvas
H 57 x W 85 cm
University of Dundee Fine Art Collections

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Snow
© the artist's estate. Photo credit: University of Dundee Fine Art Collections

Barbara Robertson was a printmaker, illustrator, and teacher. She studied at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art in the 1960s, later returning to teach printmaking. She became particularly renowned as one of Scotland’s leading exponents of linocut prints. In this example, Robertson contrasts the harsh, skeletal silhouettes of bare trees with the fuzzy forms of grazing sheep.

Snow 1978
Barbara Robertson (1945–2018)
Linocut on paper
H 54.5 x W 62 cm
University of Dundee Fine Art Collections

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Walnut (Blue)
© the artist's estate. Photo credit: University of Dundee Fine Art Collections

Born and trained in Dundee, Moira Macgregor worked as a fashion illustrator, editor and painter. The exceptionally detailed realism of commissioned pieces like this (created as part of a series for Crabtree & Evelyn) contrasted strongly with the minimalism and abstraction of her own personal artwork.

Walnut (Blue) c.1990
Moira Macgregor (1931–2016)
Watercolour on paper
H 38 x W 40 cm
University of Dundee Fine Art Collections

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Still Life with White Teapot
© the artist. Photo credit: University of Dundee, Duncan of Jordanstone College Collection

Marge Loudon Moody has lived in the United States since 1983 but previously studied Drawing & Painting at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art, graduating in 1972. She now specialises in bright, colourful abstract paintings quite different from this student work, but both are inspired by a sense of place, boundaries and the fragility of existence and memory. Of her art, Moody explains, “Line, shape, colour, and space are intuitively manipulated until they find their exact place in the piece as I achieve a harmonious expression of the essential nature of the subject.”

Still Life with White Teapot c.1970
Marge Loudon Moody (b.1949)
Oil on canvas
H 122 x W 81 cm
University of Dundee, Duncan of Jordanstone College Collection

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Untitled
© the artist. Photo credit: University of Dundee, Duncan of Jordanstone College Collection

Inspired by the wilds of Scotland and the Abstract Expressionists, Glassford boldly explores links between landscapes and abstraction. Here, through layered competing colours and profiles and web-like silhouettes, she is able to convey the emotionality and cacophony of nature. Glassford studied at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and later founded Tatha Gallery in Newport.

Untitled 1998
Helen Glassford (b.1976)
Oil & gloss paint on paper
H 25 x W 25 cm
University of Dundee, Duncan of Jordanstone College Collection

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Harbour
© the copyright holder. Photo credit: University of Dundee, Duncan of Jordanstone College Collection

This painting dignifies the tasks of everyday workers, placing them in the middle of a dramatic dreamscape of hulking forms and shadows. After studying at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art, Milne went on to train at Dundee College of Education and became an art teacher at Monifieth High School.

Harbour 1967
Frances Milne
Oil on canvas
H 124 x W 149 cm
University of Dundee, Duncan of Jordanstone College Collection