Do you know that YOU can vote for who appears on a £20 note?

Do you know that YOU can vote for who appears on a £20 note? And do you know why?

The Bank of England is calling for the public to nominate a historically important British visual artist to appear on the new £20 note. You have until the 19th July 2015 to nominate. A sponsored item came up in my facebook newsfeed to vote for a male artist (Stanley Spencer) whose facebook page I like and whose gallery I've visited. I left a message saying, although I'm a fan of his work, I will vote for a woman artist, as it's important to me that women appear on banknotes.

This was the response: "This is surely a quality decision rather than affirmative action one which should have nothing to do with gender. QE2 has rightly been on all our currency for some 62 years now, no complaints."

I replied: Did you miss Caroline Criado-Perez's campaign to stop Elizabeth Fry from being replaced on the £5 notes because it would have meant no woman (except for our Queen) is on any note? 36,000 people signed a petition and about 50 members of parliament backed the campaign in 2013 which was successful and changed the Bank of England's decision. (Winston Churchill will replace Elizabeth Fry on the £5, so the Bank of England conceded to put a historically important woman - Jane Austen on the new £10).

Gender is very important, women are overlooked in the arts and have been throughout history. As talented as he was, and as much as I admire Stanley Spencer's work I also admire people such as Barbara Hepworth and Beatrix Potter (not just an author - also an illustrator) and all those amazing female artists who never got to fulfil their potential or who are not known or recognised today because of their gender.

Here is the petition which explains the importance of having women from history on our currency (more eloquently than I can)

If I made only a strict 'quality' decision and I've been twice to Stanley Spencer's gallery in Cookham and the current Barbara Hepworth exhibition at Tate Britain, Hepworth would inch it. Her collective work is outstanding, she was a Titan.

Artists (and their work) can't be so easily removed from the bodies they grew up in, their social and economic situs indubitably affects the work that they are able to create. All of this has to be taken into consideration as we are voting for an artist (not their art) to appear on a banknote.

Therefore gender is and should be a valid consideration and for all of these reasons I will not be voting for Spencer. By the way, we the public are getting to vote about who appears on banknotes because of feminist Caroline Criado-Perez's campaign.

(c) Wendy Thomson 2015 (@topgirls)

More info:
List of potential nominees:
You can vote here (until the 19th July) for a British visual artist to be on the new £20