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JOURNAL beyond borders

UNITED KINGDOM, IRELAND & AIRPORTS

Mayor of Milton Keynes and Penny Paine, Coordinator
Valerie Squires, Mayor of Milton Keynes and Penny Paine, Coordinator

 

Milton Keynes Gallery

Milton Keynes, UK
July 12 – August 16, 1997

Francesca Alden, Gallery Officer

Soraya Billimoria, Assistant Gallery Officer

Emma Gregory, Learning and Development

Marian Wallace, Coordinator

Penny Paine, Contact, Coordinator and WBB Artist

 

Newport Community Center

Newport, Ireland
July 25 – August 30, 1999

Maureen McGee, Coordinator

Penny Paine, Contact, Coordinator and WBB Artist

 

Rivington Gallery

London, UK
July 4 – 12, 2000

Harold Werner Rubin, Director, Rivington Gallery

Barbara Grundy, Chair, Foundation for Women’s Art

Belinda Harding, Co-Chair, Foundation for Women’s Art

Penny Paine, Contact, Coordinator and WBB Artist

 

International Airports

Heathrow and Stansted Airports, UK
March – June, 2000

Barbara Grundy, Chair, Foundation for Women’s Art

Belinda Harding, Co-Chair, Foundation for Women’s Art

 

Two pieces were even handed over to me under the clock at Waterloo Station along with hugs and tears followed by cups of tea

– Penny Paine, Santa Barbara 1997

 

THE BEST OF BRITISH…

 

I was hooked from the moment I heard about Women Beyond Borders. With a fine arts degree from the University of London and twenty-five years of professional work in gender equity in the United States, this project somehow brought it all together… a way I could nourish my roots. Noticing that there were no participants from Great Britain. I proposed to founder Lorraine Serena that I would like to sponsor and gather some British women artists. I felt sure I could find some and I was equally sure there would be a venue eager to participate in this amazing and inspiring effort.

 

So where other participating nations started with a curator, Great Britain started with artists. It was a bit like the A. A. Milne poem, the King asked the Queen who asked the dairymaid who asked the cow… and so on. One contact led to another, which luckily led to a gallery. The artists were not quite sure what this was all about but they agreed to work quickly and coordinated with my own visit to see my parents. As requested boxes arrived at my parents house through the mail or were delivered in person. Two pieces were even handed over to me under the clock at Waterloo Station along with hugs and tears followed by cups of tea.

 

Finding a venue proved much harder than anticipated. I got responses like “ We have done women this year.” or ” We are scheduled for the next five years.” There were many transatlantic phone calls in the early hours of the morning, along with faxes and email. Eventually, with the help of Marian Wallis, a participant artist along with the persistence of Francesca Alden, curator for the Milton Keynes Public Library, the Milton Keynes venue was scheduled for July 12th – August 16, 1997.

 

Boxes from the USA, Great Britain and the original traveling exhibit were brought together and totaled 200 boxes (the remaining 88 boxes in the collection joined the exhibit for Greece). The boxes made an impressive statement and were wonderfully displayed by Curator Soraya Billimoria and assistant Emma Greggory. Along with the museum staff they worked diligently to set up the venue assisted by Alexa Allen, intern from Scripps College, Pomona, CA and myself.

 

The exhibit was officially opened by Milton Keynes Mayor Valerie Squires and guests viewed the exhibit while being serenaded by a string quartet and refreshed with very English Pimms #1 and cucumber sandwiches.

 

With new additions there was now a total of twelve British boxes. Support and interest from Belinda Harding and Barbara Grundy, Board Members with the Museum of Women’s Art, London was encouraging and it is hoped that another venue in London to benefit their cause to obtain a building and to celebrate the millennium can be arranged.

 

Penny Paine introducing Women Beyond Borders in Ireland

 

PLENTY TO DECLARE

The Guardian National Newspaper

John Henshaw, Journalist – ENGLAND

 

That doyen of box art, Joseph Cornell, would no doubt approve.

– Barbara Grundy, Chair of The Foundation for Women’s Art, London

 

Plenty to declare If you want to understand woman’s place in the 21st century, try looking in a box at Stansted airport. John Henshall reports International Women’s Day: special report Wednesday March 8, 2000. Travellers who pass through Stansted airport in Essex over the next four months will be able to view a radically original touring exhibition of the work of women artists from around the globe.

 

One hundred boxes, featuring a huge range of art forms, go on display from today, International Women’s Day. They will remain at the airport, accessible to all visitors, until the end of June, when the curators hope to show them in London for at least a week before they travel to Athens on the next leg of their journey. The show is called Women Beyond Borders (WBB) and its British visit constitutes the millennial exhibition by the London-based Foundation for Women’s Art, which was launched in 1992 as the Museum of Women’s Art. The FWA persuaded the airline KLM and BAA to co-sponsor the Stansted display, and most of the boxes, which are made from pine and are about the size of a large chocolate box, are in KLM’s departure lounge.

 

It seems fitting that these exquisitely decorated artifacts, from which explode displays of painting, sculpture or found objects (with the box as part of the artwork) should be displayed in an airport, since they have been circling the earth since their creation. The WBB “mail art” project was started by two American artists, Lorraine Serena and Elena Siff, at Santa Barbara, California, in 1992. Their idea was to devise a traveling show “to honor and connect women on a global, grass-roots, collaborative basis”. They sent self-assembly kits to curators in 15 countries, who each invited 12 women artists to transform a box into a work of art.

 

The pieces were first shown in Santa Barbara in 1995; now there are 400 boxes, and WBB shows have been staged in 26 countries. The Stansted show is the first in the UK. The participating artists have agreed to give up ownership of their works for the permanent collection that Serena and Siff intend to establish in California next year. While the WBB exhibition is in this country, a number of British women artists and women in public life will construct their own boxes, to add to an already diverse collection. The chair of the FWA, Barbara Grundy, used to run a commercial gallery in London, and took on the job of organizing the MWA/FWA at the end of last year. Since then the FWA has identified a suitable exhibition space in central London, one that is not currently used for showing art. The FWA has not yet secured funding for a permanent space, though Grundy will oversee the preparation of a new application to the heritage lottery fund. So far, a lack of funds has restricted the FWA to mounting about one show a year, at other people’s galleries.

 

Previous exhibitions have included the work of the tragic and neglected Cynthia Fell, who died in a psychiatric hospital in 1977 aged 44. An earlier show highlighted the work of Charlotte Salomon, a Jewish artist working in wartime Europe who entrusted her “visual autobiography” of 1,300 gouaches to a French friend before she was killed by the Nazis at Auschwitz in 1943, aged 26. Grundy describes the WBB project as “an example of women at the end of a century of intense change, showing solidarity with one another and looking at where we’ve got to in relation to our role and place after decades of struggle”. The result is an exhibition of masterly creativity and admirable resourcefulness. That doyen of box art, Joseph Cornell, would no doubt approve.

 

An unexpected, anonymous offering from Ireland

 

IRELAND

 

A LETTER FROM IRELAND

 

IRELAND loves the boxes

I can now be at the next lunch as we Mr. Paine and myself are not going away. I am glad and sad I really was looking forward to sleeping a little. Oh well. I have had two calls from Ireland. They put a notice in a National paper and had some response from women and they have a center in Dublin involved. Maureen said this project could easily get out of hand! the interest is great! I said it already was out of hand! Can Ireland have ten boxes they already have four so that would make 14 and we are set for the mini Irish venue and she will get me details for the Dublin connection. I will get stuff to send after you are back and if you ok this. Also I noted that a Girls Inc. got 100,000 from the UPS Foundation for computers. UPS is boxes and I think they should give money we need to review. See you soon. Enjoy the children and I agree about the temperature it can’t be healthy. We did not have central heating until I was about 15! Just a boiler for the water and a fire in the front room! – Love from Penny

 

– email from Penny Paine to Lorraine Serena

 
 

A FAX FROM IRELAND

 

October, 1998

Dear Mairin,

 

A quick hello from Santa Barbara everyone is very excited about visiting Newport next year for the handball tournament and the proposed exhibit. It is a go and the only thing that Women Beyond Borders asks is that perhaps a couple of women artists from Northern Ireland could be found and asked to participate. Let me know about that…(I did explain that they really belong to the UK!) but give me your thoughts as we will need to send over more boxes and forms. Have you talked to Sinaed because if nothing else she and her colleagues can help identify possible Irish national and local artists.

 

I will bring over about 25 boxes from other places and with the Irish submissions we hope to have about 40 for the exhibit. You can certainly do one to honor Graine Uhaille…definitely a great idea.

 

Maureen McGovern is interested in helping and she would be happy to pin down the gallery space, etc. As it stands we could open on the Saturday or Sunday for the handball players and local dignitaries with a special preview and perhaps midweek for the public. I am faxing this but I need your address to send forms and photos. Talk soon.

 

Love Penny

 

PS We drove through Omagh just an hour before the bombing. Shocking.

 

– Fax from Penny Paine to Mairin McGee, Artist and Curator at the Galway Art Center, Ireland

 

Vera Kealy - Simply Confused, Ireland, 1999
Vera Kealy – Simply Confused, Ireland, 1999

 

Vera Kealy – Simply Confused – Ireland, 1999
I robbed my little box of a purpose, but I gave it yours.

 

Caroline Coon – One Thousand Years Of Sewing Into The Night, UK, 2000

 

Caroline Coon – One Thousand Years Of Sewing Into The Night – UK, 2000
My grandmother’s sewing box, a gift from her mother, handed down to me by my mother, is my inspiration for Women beyond borders. I have made a tiny sarcophagus of pins, cotton and frayed red velvet – to symbolize thousands of droplets of blood from pin-pricked fingers – all embedded in the wax of candles burned into the night, lighting women’s often unappreciated work of skill, toil and pleasure.

 

Penny Paine – Dispelling the Cinderella Myth, USA, 1995

 

Penny Paine – Dispelling the Cinderella Myth – USA, 1995
For all the girls growing up today:
A Pumpkin, Six White Mice,
and a Pair of Glass Slippers Just Won’t Do.

Dedicated to Mindy Bingham and Sandy Stryker.

 

SEE BOXES FROM UK 

SEE BOXES FROM IRELAND