Art graduate’s solo show makes commentary on women’s safety in Australia

Published 5 November 2021
Art and design graduate Gala Jane at her solo exhibition ‘This Is Nothing New’

Art and design graduate Gala Jane’s first solo exhibition is stirring conversations around women’s safety and attitudes towards women in Australia.

Her exhibition ‘This Is Nothing New’ is currently on show at the Northern Rivers Community Gallery in Ballina. It continues her study and self-reflection of sexism and harassment that is so prevalent in our society.

She combines found objects and text to empower, call out and open a dialogue with the viewer, inviting them to answer the question, ‘are you angry yet?’.

My name's Gala Jane, I studied at Southern Cross University and finished my Bachelor of Art and Design last year.

Finishing my degree during COVID and during lockdown was really challenging, but it actually changed the way that I created and changed what I was doing and kind of the meaning behind everything, and it's really pushed me in a different direction that I didn't see coming.

Through graduating last year in 2020, I was awarded the Northern Rivers Community Gallery Award. So the gallery here has given me my first solo exhibition, so that is a huge deal for me especially coming out of this kind of uncharted territory of the pandemic.

Yeah, so the exhibition here is called 'This Is Nothing New.' It's essentially the basis of it is about women's safety and people's and Australian's attitude towards women. Women's safety has been an issue for so long, and it's still an issue, and a lot of people think. You'll see in the exhibition that people think that women's safety isn't an issue anymore or that kind of the first few waves of feminism have been great and that it's all over, but it's not.

So this exhibition is looking at statistics around women's safety and how people think about women essentially and in particular sexual harassment, sexual harassment in the workplace and inappropriate comments.

Going to SCU and studying art was something completely different for me. It was a complete change of degree I was a mature age student coming into the degree and I haven't had a lifetime of art, so I came in with a thought oh this is what I'm going to do this is the art I'm going to create, and then all the lecturers there have really moulded and kind of brought out all of these things in me and all of my peers that have allowed us to create and to express what's going on or make this social commentary through the way that we're practising our art. We've been able to leap off and continue creating and continuing having opportunities to get involved in the creative space especially in the Northern Rivers.

“Women's safety has been an issue for so long and it's still an issue. A lot of people think that the first few waves of feminism have been great and that it's all over but it's not. So, this exhibition is looking at statistics around women's safety and how people think about women and in particular sexual harassment,” she said.

Upon graduating with a Bachelor of Art and Design in 2020, Gala was awarded the Northern Rivers Community Gallery Award for her work ‘I Have A Voice’ and given the opportunity to open her first solo exhibition at the gallery in Ballina.

The memorable series of work created in her final year of study includes 27 portrait photographs of Gala wearing a facemask made from bra cups, embroidered with text to each represent a different issue.

From ‘I am a strong woman’ to ‘I walk alone at night', each photograph makes a powerful statement.

Gala Jane I smiled cause it's my job

‘This Is Nothing New’ is a continuation of this series, focussing on statistics sourced from the Fourth National Survey on Sexual Harassment in Australian Workplaces and the 2017 National Community Attitudes towards Violence against Women Survey, exposing data on sexual harassment and how the general population feels towards women’s safety.

“Finishing my degree during COVID and during lockdown was really challenging but it actually changed the way that I created and changed what I was doing and the meaning behind everything. It's really pushed me in a different direction that I didn't see coming,” she said.

“The lecturers at Southern Cross really moulded and brought out all of these things in me and all of my peers that have allowed us to create and to express what's going on or make this social commentary through the way that we're practising our art. We've been able to leap off and continue creating and continuing having opportunities to get involved in the creative space, especially in the Northern Rivers.”

Her exhibition is on display at the Northern Rivers Community Gallery in Ballina from 3 November to 24 December.

Media contact: Media and content team content@scu.edu.au