Present Tense : Wāhine Toi Aotearoa is a touring exhibition that encompasses over 70 posters and writings by designers, artists and educators from the Directory of Women Designers.
The exhibition is a moment-in-time record of the current landscape of women in design, using the poster format to give visibility and voice to the unsung diversity of Aotearoa design. The exhibition includes silk-screen posters from ĀKAU Studio, Anna Wilkinson, Alessandra Banal, Elisapeta Hinemoa Heta, Ella Sutherland, Fiona Jack, Kyra Ta-Waka Clarke, Nell May, Pipi Press, Sarah Maxey, Sonya Lacey, and myself along with over sixty contributions by members of the Directory in response to an open poster call. During 2019 it will tour Aotearoa, exhibiting at RAMP Gallery, Enjoy Public Art Gallery, Laurel Projects and Ilam Gallery.
I worked with Catherine Griffiths to organise the project, and contributed a silk-screened poster, Strength Without A Fist, which you can read about here alongside the rest of the contributions.
This poster was made in reference to the work of Sheila Levant de Bretteville, acclaimed American designer whose work and teaching revolves around feminist principles and user participation in graphic design. The eyebolt motif, a feminist symbol of “strength without a fist”, was utilised in her seminal poster for the conference Women in Design: The Next Decade in 1975 in Los Angeles. The eyebolt was also produced as a necklace on a chain and gifted to women supporting the movement.
The Women in Design conference was in 1975. It is now 2019.
The colour #ff3333, the red, reminds me of another work of de Bretteville’s — an excerpt from ‘Pink’, from 1973:
Pink is the color my mother wished for me,
thinking it sweet, thinking it pure,
thinking it all things not violent or
cruel. She did not notice, hidden in
the heart of the sweetheart roses, the
seed of blood deepening into crimson.
In the blink of an eye we pass through
the spectrum, shredding colors and images.
No destination is possible; there is
only the movement from one point to
another; there is only the journey.
And no time is wasted, no time is lost.
We are all all those moments, even that
time long ago when we were our mother’s
daughters, pink pearls.
Sheila kindly gave me permission to use the eyebolt motif in this work. As she writes in her email: