In a year in which it has been widely reported that women’s rights and equality, whether in the workplace or the home, have suffered a huge knockback due to the fallout of the global pandemic with which we are all now so tediously familiar, it seems pertinent that Edinburgh Printmakers, among many other organisations, have decided to mark International Women’s Day on Monday with a significant exhibition of work.

Taking place in its online “viewing room”, it showcases the work of five female artists with diverse creative practices under this year’s theme, Choose to Challenge, with prints available to purchase from a starting price of £120.

This is the third in a series of five online exhibitions highlighting both new prints and rare works from the archive. The gallery’s viewing rooms have proved immensely popular, with the pre-Christmas show receiving more than 7,000 unique views, from the UK and much further afield.

“We wanted to champion a small selection of artists to celebrate this year’s theme,” says chief executive Shan Edwards, who says that the gallery began planning just after New Year, when it became clear that art galleries would be shut for the foreseeable future.

“Women artists are still hugely under-represented in art galleries globally,” she says, and so for Edinburgh Printmakers it was important to take the opportunity to showcase a range of women artists with diverse practices.

“They work with print in many different ways,” adds Edwards. Three of the five artists had never worked in print before, and took the opportunity during that fleeting time in between lockdowns last year to go in to the Printmakers studios and work alongside the master printmakers in a collaborative effort to create new work.

“The good thing is that you don’t need to start the process with a clear vision of what you want, when you’ve never done it before,” says Edwards.

“The artists visit the studio to get familiar with it and to discuss ideas with our printmakers. The whole thing can evolve with the process. It’s best, really, to come with no preconceived ideas.”

The artists – Moyna Flannigan, Ruth Ewan, Maya Hollis, Kristin Nordhøy and Jenny Pope – have worked in different printing media, from lithography to laser cutting. Flannigan and Ewan had previously worked with Edinburgh Printmakers on exhibitions. Flannigan will show images from her Femmes Fatales series of images of women, each representing a toxic stereotype and labelled with the names of poisonous plants.

The costumes are part of the image, taking the viewer away from the historic male artistic view of the woman as nude – part of Flannigan’s aim to challenge the stereotypes that have historically informed the painting of women.

Ewan’s prints come from a commission for an exhibition at Edinburgh Printmakers in 2011 which aimed to show how printmaking as a medium has often functioned as a democratic vehicle for radical ideas. Taking her inspiration from a quote made by the 17th-century Quaker Edward Burrough before the Reformation Parliament, words which have often been re-used by radical historians, it is printed in a typeset created by students of Edinburgh’s Broughton High School with Ewan.

Pope, who studied for a BA in ceramics and then an MA in sculpture at Edinburgh College of Art, was selected as the recipient last year of the EP Publishing Award at the Society of Scottish Artists’ annual exhibition, which gave her time in the EP studios to work with a master printmaker on a limited edition print. Her work is concerned with tools, or objects exploring “psychological change”.

Her prints show “objects” which claim to have a function, yet are not functional, labelled Illogical Fears Unpicker or Panic Button, an assemblage of found objects rather wonderfully in search of a purpose.

Hollis was also the recipient of an Edinburgh Printmakers award, at the 2019 New Contemporaries show. Her work “navigates the use and misuse of traditional photographic and printmaking techniques...(exploring) the cyclical tides of the female reproductive body, in relation to elemental bodies of water in the natural landscape”.

The works created by the Glasgow School of Art graduate are monochrome, presented as if some cross between ultrasound and uncharted territory, plotted.

The final artist in the series is Nordhøy, an Oslo-born and educated artist whose work has not been shown in Scotland before.

She has used the laser cutter at Castle Mills to print on to wood blocks, creating a series that runs in parallel with an ongoing drawings set, Inverted. Nordhøy’s drawing process involves the indenting of lines on to paper, which are then filled with charcoal, “a subtle rhythm of lines and spaces”.

The use of the laser cutter in the production of these images was itself a new process for Nordhøy, and the printmakers at the studio worked with her to explore how she could achieve this parallel series of images.

“It’s all very collaborative in the print studio,” explains Edwards.

“And what’s really exciting for us in this exhibtion is to be able to shine a light on these women, from Ruth Edwards – who really works with marginalised stories and voices – to working with Nordhøy on a really collaborative print.

“Celebrating women’s art is really important, both for the artist and for the public.”

Critic's Choice

AND so with an end, possibly, in sight to all this – with a following wind, fingers crossed and the help, possibly, of a month of Sundays – just a few more months of galleries mounting their exhibitions in the nebulous ether.

We are used to it now, if not accustomed, but the curious fact remains that many of these “online” exhibitions are still installed in the real-life galleries, despite our lack of presence, the works hung with as much care as if we were all trooping by and appreciating them in person.

So it is with the Modern Institute’s current exhibition, the first UK showing of Chicago-based artist and musician Lisa Alvarado. Born in 1982 in Texas, Alvarado studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and plays harmonium in the musical ensemble Natural Information Society.

Her bright conceptual works are rooted in ideas of “inbetween-ness”, whether it is a construction of the spiritual and the physical or injury and healing, and often staged between music and art.

The works themselves are visually bold, their aesthetic and rhythms influenced by the textile traditions of the Mexican American tradition where Alvarado grew up in Texas, her thought-provoking work informed in part by her own Xicana identity.

Inherent, too, is an exploration of the forced movements of peoples of Mexican origin endured by her predecessors, and of course ongoing today, not least during the previous American presidential administration. Works include Scab Diagram, pictured above, a meeting of sound, painting and sand, looking at the idea of regeneration.

Lisa Alvarado, the Modern Institute,