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Celebrating International Women's Day

8th March 2021

For Heroic Women Artists & Creatives: Past & Present.


What is International Women’s Day? 

IWD celebrates social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. 

A woman recently asked our Manager, Sophy - what was the point of International Women’s Day?

There are some women who don’t know why we celebrate International Women's Day. This is a day to recognise & celebrate all the women who persevered in the face of sexism, gender inequality & prejudice and paved the way for the women of today. Women, like ourselves owe our gratitude to those women for allowing us to be more outspoken about gender issues. Will there ever be true gender equality? We hope so.


The Kemble Gallery & Art Shop is a woman led indie business with a small team of staff, who also happen to be women.


Staff Spotlight on Women Heroes:

To celebrate IWD we have selected women artists who are our heroes and women artists we would like to shine the spotlight on. We’ve chosen artists from two categories: 

Art History Hero:

Women Artists who came before and paved the way for those today.

Kemble Gallery Woman Artist Spotlight:

Kemble Gallery Women Artists who are redefining the gender roles.


Sophy’s Art History Hero:

Tové Jansson (1914 - 2001), Finish Artist, Writer, Illustrator, Cartoonist, & Mural Painter. (We would refer to her as a Multi-hypenate* in today’s society.)

Sophy admires Tové Jansson for her beautiful illustrations, forward thinking in cartooning**, imaginative creative thinking, story-telling, ingenuity and bravery to face the world openly, defying the strict gender roles and social boundaries of her time.

Tové Jansson is a multi-talented artist and is most famous for creating the Moomins. Moominland is a wonderful universe that Tové populated with her charming Moomin family and oftentimes peculiar supporting characters, which featured in her novels loved by both children & adults worldwide. She published her first book Moomins and the Great Flood in 1945. Tové was a free spirit and defied gender roles, much like her mother, Signe Hammarsten (Ham). Tové’s mother wanted to study, practise a profession and live her life on her own terms, just as men did, which was unusual thinking for the time. Tové lived together with a woman Tuulikki Pietilä (Tooti), a graphic artist, for 45 years. She never tried to hide her sexual identity when it was not socially tolerated at the time. Homosexuality was considered a crime and a disease in Tove’s native Finland, where it remained illegal until 1971.

Sophy’s Kemble Gallery Woman Artist Spotlight:

Valerie Nixon, Textile Artist.

Valerie has been knitting all her life and then took a keen interest in quilting to add to her textile skills. She has made installations for the Kemble Gallery, as well as exhibiting & selling her work. You have probably seen our beautiful hand-knitted rainbow staircase, which was installed last year during the first lockdown.  Valerie can turn her hand to anything knitted and takes up any challenge with enthusiasm and determination. She’s currently working on a new knitted creation for the Kemble Gallery, soon to be installed!

Rainbow Hand-knitted Textile Installation by Valerie Nixon,

featuring Claude, Manager's Assistant.


Lindsay’s Art History Hero:

Joan Mitchell (1925 - 1992), American Artist.

Whilst studying at Art School, Lindsay discovered the artwork of Joan Mitchell. Joan was an American abstract expressionist painter and printmaker. She was a member of the American abstract expressionist movement, even though much of her career took place in France. Her work is based on many themes, including memories of landscapes, feelings, experiences and events. 

Lindsay admires Joan Mitchell for her passion for painting, commitment and sense of adventure as a person. Lindsay wrote, “her use of scale and colour within her work is so powerful.”

Lindsay’s Kemble Gallery Woman Artist Spotlight: 

Lisa House, Contemporary Abstract Artist. 

Lindsay loves the colour, texture & mixed media Lisa uses within her works. 

“Her style is instantly recognisable her work is balanced and so beautiful and harmonious without looking over-worked or too contrived.”


She admires Lisa’s dedication to her creative practice, because Lisa works non-stop and you can tell she loves playing with colour & textures in her work.


                                                                                                 Free Spirit by Lisa House.


Lee’s Art History Hero:

Gwen John (1876 - 1939), Welsh painter. 

Gwen John’s body of work consists of portraits of women. When she studied at Slade School of Art in the 1890’s it was the only art school in the country to admit female students. Though now recognised as a remarkable British artist in her life time, she was overshadowed by her brother Augustus.

Lee’s Kemble Gallery Woman Artist Spotlight:

Ellie Tarratt aka Pretender to the Throne, Ceramicist.

Lee wrote,

“I especially like her animal-shaped blue and white hanging decorations, which are reminiscent of classic Delftware, while being clean & modern.”


                                             Ceramic Brooches by Pretender to the Throne, Ellie Tarratt.


Let's celebrate all the artists & creatives!

Go find your artist & creative heroes, whatever their background, gender or race! Tell everyone about them, share them with the world & let's celebrate everyone together. 




*Multi-hyphenate, a term used to describe a person with multi-skills or professions.

**Tové Jansson was one of the first cartoonists to make the panel frame as part of the picture.




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