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8th February 2021

The Matthews Society welcomes guest speaker OO Gwyneth Cook

The Matthews Society welcomed its second guest speaker of the term on Friday, this time Gwyneth Cook (OO 17) who is currently in her final year at the University of St Andrews reading Philosophy and English. 

Gwyneth explored the topic of ‘The Male Gaze’ in Art, looking at how women have historically been used in art as figures of admiration and desire whilst men have been presumed to be the spectator. This has led to centuries of art seemingly aimed at men, with women posed in various unnatural positions to reflect male desire, presented nude or as goddesses. Gwyneth then explained how this traditional use of women in art has been subverted by feminist artists who have challenged the male gaze, and also how the male gaze is still seen today in celebrity and selfie culture.

The talk was followed by a Q+A in which participants asked a range of interesting questions from the relationship between art and the MeToo movement, what ‘the female gaze’ might look like, and whether contemporary art is genuinely inclusive of all women.

Form 6 Art and Philosophy pupil Finn said, “Gwyneth presented a fascinating insight into the male gaze and spoke passionately about ideas most profound to the matter. Her talk far exceeded my expectation of a mere widening in understanding as she put on a remarkable and informative presentation which homed in on the history of the subject as well as more current matters. It was much enjoyed and I thank Mrs Fairley and Gwyneth for putting on such a brilliant talk.”

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