About the Women's Art Register

The Women's Art Register is Australia's living archive of women's art practice (cis,non-binary and trans inclusive) and a National, Artist-Run and Not-for-Profit community and resource.

Established in 1975 by women artists including Lesley Dumbrell and Erica McGilchrist, and the then directors of the Ewing and George Paton Galleries at Melbourne University, Kiffy Rubbo and Meredith Rogers, it began with one hundred women artists contributing slides of their work. The initial collection was housed and administered at the Ewing Gallery, University of Melbourne until 1978 when the ever-expanding collection was moved to Richmond Library [originally called Carringbush Library] where it remains today.

Assessed as a ‘Collection of National Significance’ through the Heritage Collections Council (now known as Collections Council of Australia) in 2009, this unique archive houses the documentation of over 5000 Australian and International artists over two centuries including images, catalogues, posters, books and ephemera. Included in the collection is an array of media including ceramics, textiles, photography, new media, painting, performance, text, design, craft and sculpture. WAR has collected articles, catalogues and books about Australian women artists and added these to the archive, as well as maintaining a collection of relevant journals. The earliest images seen in the collection date from the 1840s, and material is constantly updated. WAR's  written and visual collections offer a diversity of histories, stories and practices that are not captured elsewhere.

The collection is available to be used for research and education for artists, curators, students, teachers, researchers, designers, educational institutions and the general public. In 1978 the first catalogue of holdings within the Women’s Art Register was published. An updated version of the Women's Art Register Catalogue was printed in 1999. In 2018, the Women's Art Register will again update the full catalogue and make it available as an online, digital resource.

The Women's Art Register has also acted as a unique publishing house, producing its bi-annual magazine The Bulletin since 1988. The Bulletin initially kept members informed about art events and news and provided a platform for peer discussion and industry analysis of relevant issues. Commencing with a new framework in 2017, The Bulletin now acts as a contemporary, critical arts journal. In 2018 WAR will celebrate and acknowledge its 30 years of publishing with two special anniversary issues of The Bulletin.

Since 1975 the Women’s Art Register has provided an inclusive, independent platform for research, education, advocacy and support for its members and the Arts and Education sectors, enhancing the status of women artists and addressing issues of equity, professional practice and cultural heritage.Since its inception WAR has compiled a number of educational kits for use in schools relating to specialist exhibitions and subjects, and undertaken research into the status of women artists in exhibitions and galleries. The Women's Art Register holds regular events including exhibitions, discussion forums, presentations to schools, galleries and Universities, as well as responding to member and public enquiries about the collection and contemporary feminist art issues.

The Women's Art Register has for over forty years shown a deep commitment and belief in the artistic and cultural work by women and its value for all Australians. It is entirely artist-run and volunteer based and welcomes new members, volunteers, interns and global relationships.

This unique archive is accessible to the public and our committee and volunteers are available for education and outreach opportunities.

Please contact us to find out how.