BADA aim to inspire future generations with IWD 2016 Initiative

Posted: 2016-03-04 14:40:08 - Last updated: 2016-03-04 16:14:08

To mark International Women’s Day 2016, on Tuesday 8 March, BADA (The British Antique Dealers’ Association) is backing IWD 2016’s #PledgeForParity and celebrating women who have successfully challenged gender stereo types in the traditionally male dominated environment of fine art and antiques.

By highlighting the inspirational stories of pioneering industry leaders such as Claudia Hill, founder of Ellison Fine Art, Gloucestershire entrepreneur Alison Davey of AD Antiques and Ewa Cohen of Cohen & Cohen, who holds the world record for the largest sale price in Chinese Export Porcelain, BADA aims to inspire future generations of women to join our incredibly exciting, vibrant and culturally relevant industry.

Whilst researching our International Women’s Day project, BADA consulted with many of the UK’s leading fine art and antique dealers, whose early experiences in the industry reflect the difficulties of working in a traditionally male dominated role.

Ewa Cohen, who began her career as a dealer with a stand in Portobello Road, explains: “The world of fine art and antiques is still very male dominated and extremely tough for a woman to break into. I take my hat off to any woman that is able to do it by themselves. It’s a very lonely job.

“When I first started out, and even now, I find I’m side-lined from time to time. It doesn’t bother me as much as it used to when I was younger, I’m happy to take a background role these days, (she laughs), not really.”

Gaining a first foothold in the industry proved a frustrating experience for Ellison Fine Art founder Claudia Hill, she revealed: “My first interview for a job was for a security guard at the National Gallery. I was gutted when I was told it was a man’s job and to go and seek another career.

“During the first twenty years of my life working in the auction world - it was very much a man’s world. A women’s role was traditionally seen to be that of an administrator/secretary. There was one female on the board of directors, at the time, it was exceptionally hard to move up the career ladder.”

For those that have successfully made their mark in the industry, parenthood can present further challenges, as single mother and British Art Pottery expert Alison Davey explained: “Finding childcare to cover weekends, long periods away from home, or last minute trips to auctions where a very early start is required, can be very problematic and expensive.

“Several times I have been standing at a fair and my childcare has phoned in sick and I have had to lock my cabinets, abandon my stand for several days and head home to be a mummy. I don’t think I know of any other woman in the business who works alone as a single parent.”

Speaking of the association’s IWD 2016 Initiative, BADA CEO Marco Forgione said: “The fine art and antiques community has gained a reputation as a male dominated environment and that is something that BADA, as the trade association for the industry, are keen to dispel.

“There are many truly inspirational women working at the forefront of the antiques and fine art community and by sharing their stories for International Women’s Day we hope to engage and inspire the next generation of women to follow in their footsteps.

“The core disciplines which underpin the fine art and antiques trade are knowledge, expertise and the ability to read and understand people, which I believe makes us a gender neutral industry and I hope that this initiative will help us to redress the balance”

For more information on International Women’s Day click here

To celebrate IWD 2016 we’ll be sharing the stories of more pioneering women in the art and antiques industry next week.


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