Gathered by a large group of dedicated volunteers, including a number of experienced researchers and statisticians, these figures will hopefully provide an objective basis for future discourse on women in the arts, and prompt further investigation of the area.*

Between April 2012 and April 2013, ELF audited…

Of 134 commercial galleries in London, which collectively represent 3163 artists:

– 31% of the represented artists are women,
– 78% of the galleries represent more men than women,
– 17% of the galleries represent more women than men,
– 5% represent an equal number of male and female artists,
– 22 galleries (16%) had male representation of 80% or more, whilst only 3 galleries (2%) had female representation of 80% or more,
– 30 of the galleries (22%) represent an equal number, or more female artists than male.

Analysis of the 100 highest grossing auction performances of 2012 revealed there were no women on the list.

Emily Pope, 2013

Emily Pope, 2013

Over the same period, ELF audited the 133 solo shows which featured in the exhibition programmes of 29 non-commercial galleries in London:

– 31% of these shows were by female artists,
– Nearly a third of the galleries (31%) included no female solo shows (but a number of male solo shows),
– Over two thirds of the galleries exhibited more than 60% male solo shows,
– Only 1 of the 29 galleries exhibited an equal number of male and female solo shows,
– Only one of the gallery programmes that ELF audited (3%) featured all female solo shows, whereas 31% of the gallery programmes featured all male solo shows.

Rose Gibbs, 2013

Rose Gibbs, 2013

ELF audited public artworks on display in London:

– Of 43 pieces of public art in east London; 14% were made by female artists, 86% by male,
– There are 386 public works of art on display in Westminster and the City of London of which 8% were made by female artists and 92% by male,
– A quarter of the artists selected for the Fourth Plinth are female.


According to the Guardian, 61.7% of undergraduates studying creative art and design 2011-12 were female.

Screen Shot 2013-05-23 at 20.44.48

Screen shot 2013-05-24 at 09.37.49It is worth considering that, according to the Guardian, 61.7% of undergraduates studying creative art and design 2011-12 were female.

*For the purpose of this study we have excluded collaborations and used binary gender descriptors.

Frieze Art Fair 2012

Ahead of publishing the results of the Great East London Art Audit in May 2013, ELF conducted a special project analysing the list of artists represented by each of the international galleries exhibiting in the commercial section of Frieze Art Fair 2012.

– 27.5% of the artists represented at Frieze Art Fair 2012 are women (excluding collaborations and taken from a cumulative total of the amount of women represented by each gallery)
– 1.5% of the galleries represent less than one third male artists, 67% of the galleries represent less than one third female artists
– 3.7% of the galleries at Frieze 2012 represent the same number of male and female artists
– 6% of the galleries represent only one or no female artists

These results reflect a survey of 3441 artists across the 135 international galleries represented in the commercial section of Frieze Art Fair 2012

In 2012, 23.3% of solo exhibitions hosted by commercial galleries in London during Frieze week presented female artists. This can be compared with results gathered by Art Review journalist Laura McLean-Ferris in her 2008 study entitled ‘What happened to the feminist surge?‘ which revealed: In 2008, 11.6% of solo exhibitions presented during Frieze were presented female artists.

On the release of our 2012 results, Laura stated: “It’s good to see that things are changing slowly, and to see more female artists on show in London during Frieze week. I do believe that things will improve over time. In fact I do believe that 2008 was a particularly jittery year because of the recession, and that galleries decided to play it quite safe in order to make solid sales. For such a forward-thinking part of society it’s a shame that there’s still so much inequality, but much of it is historic and the roots of the trouble are in another generation. But it’s important that in this time, for the groups of artists that are emerging now, that we don’t allow those patterns to repeat, and don’t, by some strange default position, look to male artists to point the way forward.”

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