Art Abroad #2: Jennifer Higgie on arts writing and women in art history


“I was sort of staggered,” says writer Jennifer Higgie. “Why hadn’t I ever been taught about these women? Why weren’t they included in mainstream art histories?” Higgie is talking about the marginalisation of women in art history—and it’s something she speaks to in our latest podcast episode.

Art Abroad looks at artists and creatives who moved from Australia to London, and while Jennifer Higgie studied fine art in Canberra and Melbourne, she moved to London in the 1997 when she was in her late twenties. Starting as a painter, she soon turned to writing in London, eventually holding a two-decade editorial role at Frieze arts magazine from the late 1990s until 2021.

A few years ago, she began posting about historical women artists on Instagram, which gained a mass following, and led to the Bow Down podcast on women artists. Last year she published the brilliant book The Mirror and the Palette: Rebellion, Revolution and Resilience: 500 Years of Women’s Self-Portraits, which looks at women in art history from the 1500s onwards, focussing on women artists who at some point painted a self-portrait. Higgie shows what it took for these women to create, and how individual their creations are.

In our podcast interview, Higgie talks about her earlier life as an artist, her move to London and her time at Frieze. She also chats about the nature of arts criticism, the experience of editing a renowned arts magazine, and why women have been outcasted from mainstream art history.

The Mirror and the Palette: Rebellion, Revolution and Resilience: 500 Years of Women’s Self-Portraits is published by Simon and Schuster and Hachette Australia, available here.

This series is kindly sponsored by Leonard Joel Auctioneers and Valuers, based in Melbourne and Sydney.

Produced and presented by Tiarney Miekus, engineering by Patrick Telfer, and music by Mino Peric.

Podcast Words by Tiarney Miekus