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Ordinary Women, Extraordinary Lives

We know that women have a long and proud tradition of activity in civil society, linking political work to social endeavour. We also know that their efforts and achievements are largely unheralded.

During 2001, the year of the centenary of Australia’s Federation, the Victorian Women’s Trust wanted to celebrate women’s contribution to Victorian community life over the past century in a way that was special and put this proud history firmly on the public record.

Our exhibition, Ordinary Women, Extraordinary Lives, created as part of the Centenary of Federation celebrations, showcased the lives and stories of many of these women and is our tribute to all the women who have gone before us and those around us now. You are welcome to view artworks from this exhibition, at the Victorian Women’s Trust office in Melbourne. Contact us on (03) 9642 0422 to arrange a viewing.

capturing the contribution of victorian women

Our exhibition, Ordinary Women, Extraordinary Lives, was created after receiving a starting grant from the Centenary of Federation Fund. Throughout the year 2000, the Trust negotiated with several other organisations that were enthusiastic about our idea and offered additional financial support.

We advertised the public nomination process in the metropolitan daily newspapers and thirteen regional newspapers with the following paragraph:

As you read this, you might find yourself thinking out loud about someone you know. She might be dead, or still living. The more you think about her, the more you realise the genuinely heroic dimensions to her life. So ordinary on the surface, but when you start to explore the meaning and significance to her life, you think ‘how extraordinary!’

We received over 260 nominations. So inspiring were all these stories that we couldn’t possibly narrow them down to the small selection that was originally planned. There was in fact no choice – we had to include them all. The exhibition toured throughout 2001 and we believe we did justice to the meaning and significance of the lives and achievements of these incredible women.

Placing Women in History

The publication Ordinary Women, Extraordinary Lives was created in conjunction with the touring exhibition in 2001 to capture everything and more of the wonderful insights into the lives of these women.

The Victorian Women’s Trust believes that this document and the touring exhibition has a powerful message:

Day after day, year after year, women make an immeasurable contribution to our economy and society – one that is still not adequately acknowledged by the conventional history or the wider public record. This is our tribute to them.

 

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