VivaWomen! puts on a show

Something exciting happened at Saatchi & Saatchi last night that pushed beyond advertising, writes Jo Wallace, creative director, Saatchi & Saatchi.

  • Bittersweet, by Rhea Thierstein

    Bittersweet, by Rhea Thierstein

  • Madonna Iron, by Nancy Flouts

    Madonna Iron, by Nancy Flouts

  • Divination, by Michela Picchi

    Divination, by Michela Picchi

  • Babe, No, by Hattie Stewart

    Babe, No, by Hattie Stewart

  • Anna, by Pam Glew

    Anna, by Pam Glew

  • When I'm good, I'm very good, but when I'm bad I'm better, by Miss Cakehead

    When I'm good, I'm very good, but when I'm bad I'm better, by Miss Cakehead

  • Steel Kiss, by Sara Pope

    Steel Kiss, by Sara Pope

  • Hoovering between the two, by Soozey Lipsey

    Hoovering between the two, by Soozey Lipsey

  • Felfie, by Alison Jackson

    Felfie, by Alison Jackson

of

The private view of There’s a Good Girl showcased work by female artists and creatives who break the rules and refuse to be good girls – because good is just not good enough.

The exhibition celebrates art created by 20 of the most audacious creative women making their mark on contemporary culture today – Alison Carmichael, Alison Jackson, Arvida Bystrom, Cassandra Yap, Hattie Stewart, Jessica May Underwood, Jillian Lochner, Kathryn Ferguson, Malika Favre, Mary Nighy, Michela Picchi, Miss Cakehead, Nancy Fouts, Natasha Law, Pam Glew, Rhea Thierstein, Sara Pope, Soozy Lipsey, Toni Gallagher and Veronique Rolland.

These women have all created iconic commercial work as well as disruptive fine art but for this exhibition each artist was given free rein to make a personal statement, loosely based on the title of the exhibition.

They certainly didn’t disappoint, giving the VIP-studded crowd plenty to look at and talk about. From Monday, There’s a Good Girl will be open and free to the public when it moves to the Assembly Rooms in Soho, where it will run until 19 December.

The exhibition takes its name from the 1980s bestseller written by Marianne Grabrucker about her attempts as a mother to observe the social conditioning on her daughter, and inspire her to override gender stereotyping and realise her full potential.

This chimes with the goals of VivaWomen! – a Publicis Groupe network run entirely by volunteers, which supports women to realise their ambitions by helping to nurture and retain female talent as they progress along their career path.

The idea for the There’s a Good Girl exhibition came about several months ago after I went along to a VivaWomen! breakfast meeting.

During that breakfast meeting Sarah Baumann (Talent Strategy Director of Leo Burnett Group and Chair of VivaWomen!) invited me to give a talk, sharing my story and experiences as a female creative director.

I’ve worked across many categories and products in my career, including cars, banks and beauty products, and I know that no matter the brief, it's creative talent that matters, not gender.

I readily agreed to give a talk, but felt sure there was a bigger and better way to showcase female creativity, with a wider-reaching cultural relevance.

In our industry we regularly brief photographers, directors, illustrators etc. and I thought it would be fantastic to invite women in these roles, whose commercial work we all know and love, to exhibit personal work.

I discussed this idea with several colleagues and there was such passion for the idea that it quickly went from strength to strength with spectacular results.

There’s a Good Girl is the result of a combination of skills and passion from the whole, amazing TAGG team, consisting of myself, Shelley Dobson, Suzie Quill, Camilla McLean, Layla Boyd, Lee Sharrock and Lisa Robbins.

These women are all definitely beyond "good" at what they do and it’s been a pleasure putting this exhibition together over the past few months.

The reaction to the exhibition has been extremely positive. People recognise that this is not about tokenism, it’s about celebrating talent, plain and simple.

There are very talented creative men, and there are very talented creative women, it’s just that previously we’ve tended to see and hear more about the male talent.

No-one can deny that historically women have been under-represented in many facets of advertising, particularly the creative department (we’ve all seen Mad Men and cringed).

Things are changing but it’s still far from the norm to have a female creative director, or a female director for example. But the talent is there and with There’s a Good Girl we’re showcasing and championing that.

The good news is that we’re starting to see more and more female creative teams both in agencies and at showcases such as Cream and D&AD New Blood.

There are more female creatives, creative directors and directors than ever before. And that means there are more female role models and mentors for future talent, both male and female. And that can only be a good thing.

The exhibition will be on display at The Assembly Rooms from Monday 1 December until 19 December. Opening hours Monday-Friday 9am-6pm. Free admission.

A percentage of any artwork and merchandise sales will go to charity Plan UK.

Sponsors: Ren, FrostFrench, Dash, The Pickled Village, Candy Kittens, Lindt, Max Factor, St Germaine, Peroni, Beluga vodka, Picador, Propercorn, Architect at Home, Lazy Oaf.

Printers: Wren Press and Jealous Print Studios.

Photographer: Elin Hornfeldt.

With thanks to Marion Grabrucker for allowing us to use the same title as her book, ‘There’s a Good Girl’.

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