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The rise of the female voice in art, architecture and museum leadership

Is this the year that greater attention is given to the contribution of the female voice in art, architecture and museum leadership?

Rebecca Salter PRA begins her reign as President of The Royal Academy of Arts and is the first woman to take the role in the Royal Academy's 251 year history.

Rebecca was elected Royal Academician in 2014 in the category of Printmaker. In 2017, she became Keeper of the Royal Academy with the responsibility of guiding the RA Schools. She said: 'This is a tremendously exciting time to become President following the recent 250th anniversary expansion', helping 'the RA to evolve while keeping art, architecture and debate at the heart of what we do'.

Future Cities Forum documented the RA's expansion under Chief Executive Charles Saumarez Smith who spoke at our 'Art and Cities' event held at RIBA in January 2018 - on the restoration and reworking by Sir David Chipperfield of the Burlington Gardens wing of the Academy.

This November the Royal Academy will give voice to the work of artist Tracey Emin and her life long inspiration from Norwegian artist Munch. The exhibition, 'Tracey Emin / Edvard Munch, The Loneliness of the Soul', showcases her fascination with Munch's expressionism and his concerns with exploring the complexity of the human psyche.

As early as 1998, Emin referenced Munch in both the title role and the location of the film work 'Homage to Edvard Munch and all my dead children' which opens with a naked Emin curled in a foetal position on a wooden jetty on the edge of the Oslo Fjord in Asgardstrand, where Munch painted several well-known works.

Tate Liverpool this spring/summer will showcase Candice Breitz's powerful video installation, 'Love Story' relating experiences of the global refugee crisis from around the world. It features Julianne Moore and Alec Baldwin and asks the question, 'If a refugee's story was told by a celebrity, would you pay more attention?'

Candice is a South African artist and the work presents the stories of six people who have fled their countries. Her work suspends viewers between the first-hand accounts of individuals who would typically remain anonymous in the media and the slick retelling by two actors who are the embodiment of visibility.

Meanwhile overlooked female designers of the Modernist movement in Britain were celebrated at RIBA in December 2019, as part of a series of events linked to its 'Beyond Bauhaus' exhibition. The stories of six key female architects, including Elizabeth Denby, Betty Scott and Sadie Speight were featured.

Denby (1893 - 1965) had no formal architectural training but learnt of the practical problem and social implications of inferior housing through her work at the Kensington Housing Association and championed the participation of tenants in the design process throughout her career. Speight (1906 - 92) was an associate member of the Design Research Unit, the first interdisciplinary design agency in Britain, while Betty Scott was part of one of the first practices of women architects in Britain, influenced by the Dutch design school 'de Stijl'.

The 1930s was a pivotal decade for British avantgarde architecture and despite the relative paucity of modernist buildings being commissioned, by 1937 the country had, for a brief moment, become the epicentre of progressive contemporary architecture in Europe.

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