Focus placed on female visibility

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Portraits of female MPs included in the exhibit. Pic ©JMU Journalism.

The Open Eye Gallery in Liverpool has launched a new exhibition celebrating the centenary of women’s suffrage and championing the visibility of females.

Symbolically, 209 women photographers took portrait pictures of 209 female MPs for the project.

Photographer Hilary Wood set it up to mark 100 years since the first UK women achieved the right to vote. Another aim is a call for gender equality across all spheres of society, especially male-dominated politics and art.

Ms Wood said: “The idea for the exhibition came from my own experiences of gender inequality. I’ve worked mainly in male-dominated fields for the past 18 years.

“I’ve got two daughters and I wanted to be part of changing things so that they grow up in a society that is more gender equal.

YouTube: Chantelle McKeever 

“Since 1918, 4,503 men have been elected to the UK Parliament – compared to just 491 women. On the centenary year of women’s suffrage, I wanted to celebrate how far we’ve come, but I also want to bring awareness to continued gender inequality by championing the visibility of women in power.”

The visual uniqueness of each portrait is due to each photographer being individually commissioned for named MP so that an artistic collaboration could happen between them.

Programme Assistant at Open Eye Gallery, Declan Connolly, told JMU Journalism: “We want the show pushing for the visibility of women in spaces that are usually male-dominated, so that’s the art world, unfortunately, and Parliament.

“We have been quite strong on the idea that the show isn’t political at all, it’s a non-political curation of people who are often defined by their role.

“The inspiration was this idea of visibility within the arts, so our last exhibition ‘Wake Up Together’ was about representation of LGBTQIA+ individuals, their experiences about being persecuted and their individual experiences of celebration and struggle with their identity.

“We wanted to continue that idea of representation in terms of how people are represented in a workplace and how roles are defined by where you are regardless of gender.”

The free exhibition will be showcased at the Open Eye Gallery until April 14th.