Wednesday 8 March 2023

In celebration of International Women's Day 2023


At Boldon Auction Galleries, we pride ourselves on our diversity, our female staff and directors, with a wide range of training and expertise relevant to the auction industry, help us to provide a diverse, inclusive environment that encourages an open dialogue across multiple paradigms.The auction industry has a rich and fascinating history, with a wealth of influential figures who have shaped the industry into what it is today. However, when it comes to recognizing the contributions of women, the industry has often fallen short. In this article, we want to celebrate the incredible women who have made their mark in the auction industry and discuss how we can move forward to make the industry more equitable and inclusive for everyone.

In the United Kingdom, there have been a number of influential female figures in the auction industry. Mary-Anne Long was the first woman to become a partner in a major auction house when she joined Phillips in 1988. She went on to become the head of Christie's Impressionist and Modern Art department in London and has been credited with helping to transform the industry by introducing new technology and marketing techniques.

Another pioneering figure in the UK auction industry was Roseberys founder, Saffron Van der Meer. She founded the auction house in 1987 and quickly made a name for herself as a leader in the industry. She was a strong advocate for women in the industry and helped mentor and promote many female auctioneers and appraisers.

Dolly Johnson was a trailblazer in the industry, becoming the first African American woman to own a successful auction house. She founded Dolly Johnson Auction House in Chicago in the 1960s, and quickly made a name for herself as a skilled appraiser and auctioneer. Despite facing discrimination and prejudice, Dolly persevered and built a thriving business that helped pave the way for other women and people of colour in the industry.

Estelle Zaretsky was another pioneering figure in the industry, founding the first auction house dedicated solely to contemporary art. In the early 1970s, she founded Zaretsky & Associates, which quickly gained a reputation as one of the premier auction houses for contemporary art. Estelle was a fierce advocate for artists, and helped many emerging artists get their start in the art world.

In addition to these influential figures in the industry, we also want to recognize the incredible female artists who have made their mark in the art world. 

From Barbara Hepworth: British sculptor known for her abstract and modernist sculptures in bronze, marble, and other materials.

Bridget Riley: British painter associated with the Op Art movement, known for her abstract and geometric paintings.

Joan Miró: Spanish painter and sculptor known for his surrealist works, including colourful and whimsical sculptures.

Mary Cassatt: American painter and printmaker known for her intimate and sensitive depictions of mothers and children.

Louise Bourgeois: French American artist known for her sculptures, installations, and prints that explore themes of feminism, sexuality, and the body.

Tracey Emin: British artist known for her provocative and confessional works, including installations, sculptures, and neon signs.

Cindy Sherman: American photographer known for her self-portraits that explore themes of identity, gender, and representation.

Yayoi Kusama: Japanese artist known for her colourful and psychedelic sculptures, installations, and paintings, often featuring polka dots and other repeating patterns.

Clarice Cliff: An English ceramic artist and designer who became famous in the 1920s and 1930s for her bold and colorful Art Deco pottery designs. She worked for the Staffordshire pottery company Wilkinson's Ltd., where she began as an apprentice and eventually became the head of the design department. 

Charlotte Rhead: A British ceramic artist and designer who was known for her intricate and colorful pottery designs and use of tube-lining . She came from a family of highly skilled artists and craftsmen, and she began her career as an apprentice in her father's pottery business, going on to work with the highly regarded Burleighware and Crown Ducal.

Hannah Barlow: A British ceramic artist who is best known for her work as a decorator at the Doulton pottery in Staffordshire, England. She joined Doulton in 1871 and quickly established herself as one of the company's most talented and prolific artists.

Mary Gregory: An American artist who is best known for her work on glassware. She worked for the Boston and Sandwich Glass Company in the late 19th century, where she created a distinctive style of glass painting that is still highly prized by collectors today.

Female artists have had a profound impact on the art world, and their contributions deserve to be celebrated and recognized. Here we have a range of works by female artists that Boldon Auction Galleries have had the privilege of selling over the years: 

A Wedgwood Clarice Cliff 'Circles and Squares' vase and a 'Blossom' wall plate and a small bowl

Sold in our Antique, Interior and General Sale Wednesday, 01 February 2023 for £70

A large Poole vase and a Charlotte Rhead tubeline vase, 45cm x 30cm height

Sold in our Antique, Interior and General Sale Wednesday, 15 February 2023 for £85

A Doulton Lambeth vase, incised decoration, incised initials, H.B. for Hannah Barlow, 29cm height

Sold in our Antique, Interior and General Sale Wednesday, 14 October 2020 for £150

A pair of blue glass Mary Gregory style spill vases, 23cm height

Sold in our Antique, Interior and General Sale Wednesday, 19 May 2021 for £30

Moving forward, while the contributions of these incredible women cannot be understated, there is still much work to be done to ensure that the auction industry is truly equitable and inclusive for everyone. One way to achieve this is to actively seek out and support underrepresented voices, including women.

Additionally, auction houses can work to create a more welcoming and inclusive environment by providing mentorship opportunities, promoting diversity in hiring practices, and offering training programs to encourage new voices to enter the industry. 

In conclusion, the auction industry owes a great deal to the trailblazing women who have contributed so much to its development and success. By recognizing their contributions and actively working towards a more inclusive and equitable industry, we can ensure that the auction world continues to thrive and evolve for years to come.

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