About The Women's Art Register

The Women’s Art Register (WAR) is a “Museum without walls” established in 1975 by a group of women artists including Lesley Dumbrell and Erica McGilchrist, and the then directors of the Ewing and George Paton Galleries, Melbourne University, Kiffy Carter and Meredith Rogers.  It began with one hundred women artists contributing slides of their work and was housed and administered at the Ewing Gallery. In 1977 the Register obtained funding to prepare photographic slides of women artists’ work and to photocopy articles on women artists from back numbers of art magazines within Australia. In 1978 the total collection was moved to Richmond Library [originally called Carringbush Library] where it remains today.

Since 1975 many women have contributed sets of slides of their artwork, along with paper documentation, articles and ephemera. Articles about Australian women artists in the print media have been continually collected, collated and filed for access by the public. In 1978 the first catalogue of holdings within the Women’s Art Register was published. An updated version of the Catalogue was printed in 1999. That is now out of date, and needs to be reprinted with the addition of artists who have been added to the Register since 1999.

The Register published its first Bulletin in 1988. The Bulletin has kept the members informed about art events, news and provided analysis by peers. 1995 heralded the WAR web site to further engage with all Australian women artists, and further encourage them to document their works for heritage and community. Included in the collection are women artists from a large array of media including ceramics, textiles, photography, new media, painting and sculpture. The collection is maintained by volunteers, and is used as a teaching aid and reference resource by artists, curators, students, teachers, researchers, designers, educational institutions and the general public.

The Women’s Art Register since its inception has been a vital arena and support for Australian women artists. The Register is a point of personal consolidation for artists. The documentation of the works by these artists shows a large variety of social conditions and social comment. The Women's Art Register has for over forty years shown a deep commitment and belief in the artistic cultural heritage by women for all Australians. It has recently been awarded with a National Library of Australia Significance and is one of only two such collections in the world, the other being the Women’s Art Library in London, now part of Goldsmith’s Library, University of London.