Inspired by the historically overlooked generation of international artists included in the exhibition Action, Gesture, Paint: Women Artists and Global Abstraction 1940 – 70, which reaches beyond the predominantly white, male painters whose names are synonymous with the Abstract Expressionist movement, and the 2023 recipient of the Art Icon Award, Jenny Holzer, this season we want to know – #HowDoYouMakeSpace?

It is not easy to forge your own space in the creative sector. Whether it’s finding opportunities to learn, acquiring studio space, or getting your work published or displayed in a publication or gallery, it can sometimes feel like the odds are stacked against you.

Historically speaking, this feat has been even harder for female-identifying creatives. The now infamous story of 20th-century critic Clement Greenberg dismissing Janet Sobel’s abstract expressionist drip paintings as ‘primitive’, that of a ‘housewife’ paints a picture of exclusion when it comes to women in the arts, and it is one of many such stories.

‘I only concentrated on being a mother and a painter. With support from parents, I could do both.’ – Sylvia Snowden

While drastically improved, the story today is still not perfect. A recent piece by Katy Hessel described an arts landscape in which only ‘1% of the National Gallery’s collection is made up of art by women’, with a 2022 report finding that only ‘11% of acquisitions and 14.9% of exhibitions at 31 US museums between 2008 and 2020 were of work by female-identifying artists (and 2.2% were of work by Black American artists)’ (The Guardian, 20 February 2023)

So – amongst all these statistics and stories of antiquated misogyny and otherisms, how do female-identifying and gender non-confirming creatives make space in an industry that has for centuries foregrounded the work of the man?

‘Keep pushing- keep advocating for your work and the work of others. Collectively adding pressure will eventually cause the gates to buckle open.’ – Zadie Xa

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be highlighting the works and words of artists and creatives on how they made space both digitally and across billboards in London.

And we want to hear from you. How have you made space in your industry, and what would you say to inspire or motivate your younger self? Has it been your sheer force of will, or has support from friends, family and colleagues kept you going? For an opportunity to feature in our campaign, tell us in no more than 15 words How Do You Make Space? Write it in the sand, in the fog of a mirror, or simply on a piece of paper. Take a picture, and send it to us at marketing@whitechapelgallery.org, or simply tag us on Instagram using the hashtag:


Graphic Design by Abi Wright

Creative Direction by A Vibe Called Tech

Artist Takeover | How Do You Make Space?


Delaine Le Bas

‘A spark of light which becomes a creative energy internally, that emerges into the world and lands wherever it can.’