Take 13 was formed in 2008. It was born out of a combination of two ideas: a photographic project on women artists working in their studios and a plan for an exhibition of women artists‘ work at the Dudley Museum and Art Gallery in the West Midlands. The theme was based on Virginia Woolf’s notion of ‘A Room of One’s Own’, exploring the need for a workspace for creativity. It illustrated the various spaces in which women artists pursue their art practice – studios, garages or spare rooms – alongside their artwork.
That first exhibition was a success. Even though some of the exhibitors had not met before, there was a coherence in the eclectic mix of pieces which took the group by surprise. The women decided to continue to meet and to carry on exhibiting, taking the name ‘Take 13’. Thirteen members provided a maximum size of group that gave strength in numbers, but also space for all to have a voice.
Gradually, they developed a mutual commitment to serious art and enjoyed coming together on a regular basis to support each other, planning exhibitions, discussing ideas and each other’s work. Most members had no interest in being labelled as ‘women artists’; contemporary art was their mutual interest. There is now a great range of ages in the group from thirty to over eighty and the women come from diverse backgrounds. They all have a professional approach to their practice and have studied art to some level; several are, or have been, art tutors.
From the outset, the group was created without a committee or constitution. It was strictly informal with no hierarchy. Each member was to contribute according to her particular skill, time available or physical ability. Continuing discussion, respect for each other and tolerance were at the heart of the project. In short, it became effectively a collective. Over the years, Take 13’s lack of formality has provided each member with a free basis for artistic self – development and identity whilst at the same time providing the mutual support that has been so beneficial over the years.
The group of 13 still flourishes, exhibiting regularly at least twice a year in the West Midlands. A few new artists have joined the founder members and they continue to meet once a month in Lye for discussion of practice and for planning, continually finding new venues, such as Himley Hall in Dudley, the Artists’ Workhouse in Studley and the Courtyard Gallery in Solihull. In the future the group hopes to expand further afield to reach a wider viewing public, having recently celebrated a tenth anniversary.
More details about group members can be found on their own individual websites, Instagram and Facebook.