Featured Image: The Reverend Rose Hudson-Wilkin: First Commons Chaplain
100 portraits shot by Anita Corbin, detailing the women first in their field of achievement.
“With more images being made than ever before, I wanted to provide an alternative to the mainstream and create images of women that demand people look beyond the exterior and find the inner truth. I wanted to celebrate the impact women have had on society over the last 100 years. I hope that the First Women series will inspire future generations and help them see that it is possible to break down barriers whether they are social, economic, cultural or political. I want these powerful images to offer emotional support to women who seek to be the best they can be; those women who want to aim high and will look at my pictures and see they are not alone.”
– Anita Corbin
A poignant and striking exhibition at Lacock Abbey, Corbin’s images moved me, and I found myself more and more emotional as I read each “first”. I found myself questioning again and again the triviality of some of the roles and why, more importantly how a woman had not filled these positions before. What was so present to me was the amount of male dominated roles throughout the museum on the floor below, and the juxtaposition between female empowerment and decades of a strong patriarchy.
Each portrait is not just that, it is also a study of the relationship between photographer and subject; Corbin spent 2 hours with each woman before shooting. This allows for a relationship to build up, bringing a certain depth to the imagery that might not have been present with shorter time.
Each standalone image tells a story of the woman depicted, and this is why it was so spellbinding for me, each image is a life; an existence; another strong woman’s voice shown to the world at a time where inequality is still rife. The importance of 100 woman is the link between present political climates surrounding equality and to also celebrate the passing of 100 years of women’s suffrage. Bringing this to mainstream medias attention starts to show the strong underbelly of society; how the fight for equality rages on everyday, whether it be within mainstream or it be a more quiet struggle, I find exhibitions like this so empowering and so important.
Anita Corbin’s work involves this theme of empowering women without, her prominent role of photographer for The Sunday Times and The Observer often giving her opportunities to cover stories with an emphasis on women. Her earlier work ‘Visible Girls’ from the 1980s covers female friendships and the expression of women within subcultures.
This exhibition has sparked something within me – the interest to create work like this, to study lives and allow voices and important issues like this to be heard, I feel it is important to do so.
Lacock Abbey Exhibition Visit – 16th October 2018