Explore views of our world from Falmouth to afar by stepping into the shoes of the female artists who have depicted it. This exhibition is inspired buy our popular ‘In her shoes’ 30 day art challenge on instagram during the BENOW – a Cornish adjective meaning female/feminine & festival celebrating the culture of women. It showcases the artworks and stories of the female artists in the art collection and responses created by the public.



In Her Shoes: Digital Engagement and Exhibition Project

‘In Her Shoes’ was an exhibition based on an art challenge, using the Falmouth Art Gallery’s Instagram during lockdown in March 2021. The challenge was created for the Falmouth Cultural services Benow Festival (Benow is a Cornish adjective meaning female/feminine). The brief from the festival was to provide a virtual activity that encourages connectivity and celebrates the culture of women. In keeping with the brief, the challenge was made to give people a way to connect with Falmouth Art Gallery’s collection, while the gallery was closed, and to relate to female artists from various time periods and backgrounds.

 In the challenge, I shared a different artwork by a female artist from within our collection, every day for 30 days. The challenge to the public was to respond creatively to each artwork. The exhibition took place at the Falmouth Art Gallery situated in the ‘Entrance Gallery’. It showcased a selection of works and stories from the challenge, showing the original artworks from the collection alongside public responses.

 The principal aims of the exhibition was to celebrate women artists from the Falmouth Art Gallery’s collection and to share the public responses received in the challenge. This fitted well with Falmouth Art Gallery’s most recent all female exhibition entitled ‘The World as Yet Unseen’ held in 2019. Penlee House and Gallery simultaneously was showing ‘Laura Knight: A Celebration’. It used a simple and successful model: the Shipley Gallery ran a similar art challenge during the first lockdown that had a big response from the public. 

With help from the FAG team, I selected artworks, carried out copyright clearances and send out artist loan agreements. We wrote the captions which informed the promotional texts and published this on the FAG website. We made an Instagram image and an exhibition poster. Selecting artworks from the FAG stores we completed condition reports, received loaned artworks and arranged to mount and frame all artworks. We chose the layout, hung the artworks and captions, and completed the exhibition by directing the lighting. Further engagement workshops included free events during the exhibition, engaging with old and new audiences.

The Exhibition illustrates an innovative approach to adapting and Falmouth Art Gallery’s capacity as a community resource during lockdown. It felt appropriate for the re-opening of Falmouth Art Gallery to show ‘a slice of positive’ community engagement. The exhibition was practical to organise in the small time scale, on the announcement of restrictions lifting within 4 weeks. ‘In Her Shoes’ was also low budget, as all works are from our own collection and loans from local challenge participants. Additionally, I had already made background research on the chosen artists from our collection during the creation of the art challenge.

Conclusion and Legacy

There is still a gender imbalance in the arts. According to The National Museum of Women in the Arts: ‘In the U.K., 64% of undergraduates and 65% of postgraduates in creative arts and design are women, but 68% of the artists represented at top London commercial galleries are men.’ It’s important to keep challenging this and adding to the conversation.

The exhibition was based on community engagement so it fitted with the gallery’s aims to merge with Falmouth town councils Cultural Services. As a small local gallery, Falmouth Art Gallery has an established following within the community, with which the exhibition engaged with successfully during Covid affected conditions. The creative Instagram posts made by the public will remain as a future resource, to observe what worked and to be highlighted in social media or website campaigns. By hanging work made by the public, and predominantly by local residents, the exhibition demonstrates how Falmouth Art Gallery is both a cultural resource and a space for people within our community.



Eve Swanson

Eve Swanson

Eve grew up in Essex with family connections to Cornwall she headed down to Falmouth to complete a BA Hons in Drawing. She continued living and working just outside of Falmouth.
Throughout her degree she explored drawing as a research practice and anthropological tool. She is interested in how visual arts can be used to interpret knowledge to wider audiences. She is keen to increase accessibility and diversify audiences and representations within museums and galleries.
To fuel her interest in people, arts, culture and heritage she frequently visits galleries, museums and events. Eve has co-founded a collaborative studio space in Penryn and spends her time making, recently focusing on Macrame. She is also a keen outdoor enthusiast and spends much of her free time exploring the local area bouldering and cycling.
Eve is working as a freelancer and has been working with Falmouth Art Gallery on their youth art & climate 'Splanner' project.