Women Claiming Space

Photographic Exhibition at the Hastings Arts Forum.

The forthcoming photography exhibition at the Hastings Arts Forum promises to be an intriguing affair. The gallery will be displaying the work of a group of 12 women photographers and undoubtedly there is a sense that this is work which draws from some kind of female artistic solidarity. But, it would be wrong to expect something stridently political. The work is diverse and individual, ranging through sensitive visual ponderings of our irrational delight in keepsakes, through to women and motorbikes and on to Scottish landscapes and all manner of personal obsessions. Even the Blessed Virgin Mary drops in. It is, I think, more subtly eclectic than polemical. 

But the artists do want to stress that working as a women’s group brings “strength in collaboration.” It is surely true that the history of photography has been unduly dominated by men. As if the camera had just been invented to give the ‘male gaze’ more options. Women have in fact played a major role as practitioners in the history of photography but getting critical acclaim as individuals has always been more of a struggle. This group, known as i24, feel that as a collective there is an ability to “forge new pathways”. It is not an accident that the exhibition is entitled Gaining Ground

The ambiguous coming together of individual visions with a sense of solidarity points this exhibition up as engaging, to say the least. I can imagine a range of responses from both men and women of all attitudes. Maybe some will find it almost too diverse, or maybe a bit too gendered but anyone with an interest in photography will surely find an enormous amount in it. All that can be reliably said is that it will be well worth a visit.

The exhibition will be showing at Hastings Arts Forum from 2nd until 14th November. 

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