FEMALE artists – and their women models – are being celebrated in an exhibition staged to commemorate International Women’s Day.

Four groundbreaking painters have seen their work, depicting the female form, go on show at the Sarah Wiseman Gallery, in Summertown, in Oxford.

The show, called Identities: Figurative Painting, features the work of Clare Bonnet, Toni Cogdell, Henrietta Dubrey and Veronica Wells whose figurative art touches on personal histories and the influences of fashion and media.

Sarah Wiseman, director of the South Parade gallery, said: “Identities highlights and celebrates the achievements of four very different female artists, as they find their voice as women and as artists, through the exploration and expression of the female form.

“It is therefore poignant that this exhibition coincides with International Women’s Day, which is inspiring us to be bold for change, and to continue to campaign for gender parity.

“This exhibition didn’t start out as an exhibition of women’s art exclusively.

“We planned an exhibition of contemporary figurative painting, and the four strongest artists that came to mind just happen to be women.”

International Women’s Day takes place tomorrow.

Artist Ms Cogdell said: “While I’m proud to identify myself as a woman and make art from my own life and voice, I do not define myself as a ‘woman artist’.

“It’s a loaded term and a label male artists have never needed for themselves.”

Fellow painter Ms Bonnet said: “Making art is an expression of humanity, filtered through one particular human’s experience.

“Having a child was a pivotal moment for me – there was some kind of connection I made with the essence of female experience. I began to look more closely at what my female friends were doing.

“Every single one was striving for better, and painting was a way of capturing these young women, pushing forward, with a desire for progress and essentially, love at their core.”

Ms Dubrey, however, said she positively identified with the term, saying: "I feel that my whole painting language is very female orientated.

“I have a strong belief that women and femininity have a primal and powerful force with their instinctive vision and philosophy of life.”

Ms Wiseman said: “The title Identities is in itself an exploration of the many roles that women find themselves in throughout their lives and careers.

“These paintings will hopefully spark plenty of discussion.”

The show runs until March 25.

* For further information visit wisegal.com