Claudia Pond Eyley and Carole Shepheard are feminist artists from Auckland. Their works assert and explore a female consciousness, and affirm the position of women in art history. Shepheard says, 'This exhibition has evolved from our long involvement with feminism. It should show a lateral approach to our work, issues and the problems of being an artist.'
Pond Eyley's earlier works explore her garden and nearby Mount Eden. She says, 'It was in 1980, when having painted "professionally" for ten years that I started to use my home environment as the subject matter for my work.’ Her more recent 'painted shields' combine domestic motifs, including children’s drawings, her ancestors, and fertility figures.
Shepheard uses traditional craft skills to create works that combine symbols of female spirituality with references to her friends, family, and physical environment. She says, 'The discovery of “the Goddess” and the archetypal images around this exploration has placed my work in a much broader perspective and helped lift the spirit!'
The artists also collaborate on an installation, described by one viewer as ‘positively witchy’. It is a circular arrangement, with a Stonehenge-like entrance. In the centre is a totem-pole structure; around the edge are a rising sun, a red forest sculpture, and a grid of painted sticks bound together. Sand, shells, fabric, and tiny clay skulls add colour and texture.
Shepheard runs two 'Visual Diaries/Artist's Books' workshops. 'Diaries record experiences—hopes, dreams, and aspirations, pains and sadnesses. They may restore an area of your past. They may identify a commitment and tell of an experience. They may be fact or fantasy or the mix between these.'
Evening Post critic Ian Wedde gives the show a bad review, questioning the promotion of the show as a ‘survey’. It prompts Marian Evans to write to the Evening Post in the show's defence, suggesting 'The five-year span is likely to have been chosen by these women because 1980 was the year that the women's art movement "went public" in this country with the opening of the Women's Gallery here in Wellington.'