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100 Leading Ladies

My reflections on an OCA fringe visit (Adam Newsome as good company) to the exhibition 100 Leading Ladies by Nancy Honey at Cartwright Hall, Bradford.

A pdf from my Evernote photo-diary is attached below – provides some iPhone snaps shots and links to details about the exhibition.

Things of specific interest to me:

  • The collaborative nature of the work meant there was a large stylistic range of portraiture. I’d contrast this with the work of Jane Bown (documentary approach to portraiture also), whose work seems to follow the photographer’s preference, rather than the sitter’s preference (see blog entry here).
  • I’m not sure that all the portraits were successful in saying much about the sitters – some looked like family photos / posed stiff smiles (the photo-persona). Whereas others were full of personality. Smile/laugh like you mean it, or keep a straight face – show your real personality.
  • The sitters’ gazes varied between portraits – some looking straight into the camera and others away to the side. The latter appeared more real, but the former worked if there was no photo-persona smile.
  • Where hands featured prominently in the photos, they commanded almost as much attention as the faces. Some, I found distracted, but other added to the impression of personality.
  • The work was done with a cause – an ‘anti-celebrity’ perspective, showing what real women could achieve by being true to themselves. The intention was to educate young women. Adam and I wondered if this message would reach them – a gallery on the outskirts of Bradford. The book selling for between £20 and £30 would not be accessible/desirable for many young women. Hopefully, the museum would contact local schools to encourage visits.
  • Presentation in the gallery was in simple frames (no glass) and there were no large-scale prints. I suspect down to the practicalities of space, logistics and cost to exhibit 100 portraits. But it still worked well. My impression that the photos were paired (one above the other) with complementary elements – same order was also followed in the photobook.

100 Leading Ladies [website]. Available from: http://www.100leadingladies.com [accessed 31.1.16]
Nancy Honey [website]. Available from: http://nancyhoney.com [accessed 31.1.16]

The Guardian [website]. Women In Leadership (28.9.15). Available from: http://www.theguardian.com/women-in-leadership/2014/sep/26/nancy-honey- photographer-100-leading-ladies [accessed 31.1.16]

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