The Centre for British Photography is an exciting and brand new centre, having just opened in January 2023 in central London. The new Centre is a space for photographic artists around the UK to showcase their work, whilst also exhibiting photographs from the infamous Hyman Collection. The Hyman Collection is a collection of British photography, which started in 1996. It includes work from photographers such as Linda McCartney, Bill Brandt and Anna Fox. The collection showcases a range of different photographic styles, from documentary to conceptual photography. The new centre brings together classic photography and contemporary artwork.
"With this new physical space, alive with exhibitions and events, we are creating a hub that increases British photography's national and international status."
Headstrong: Women and Empowerment is one of the first, and current exhibitions at the Centre. Curated by 'Fast Forward, Woman in Photography', Headstrong is an exhibition showcasing the work of women photographers and artists from the UK. The photographers and artists' work in the exhibition delve into the themes of diversity, feminism and social constructs. 'Fast Forward' is a research project based at the University for the Creative Arts.
The exhibition consists of 11 photographers and artists. The artists showcasing their work in the exhibition are Whiskey Chow, Shirin Fathi, Joy Gregory, Sarah Maple, Rosy Martin, Trish Morrisey, Haley Morris Cafiero, Paloma Tendero, Maryam Wahid, Maxine Walker, Vicky Hodgson and The Rainbow Sisters. The Rainbow Sisters are a group of LGBTQ+ women who have been granted, or are currently seeking asylum in the UK. All of the artists use self portraiture as a means of expression, exploring different themes and concepts which women face on a daily basis.
"This exhibition foregrounds artists and photographers who have been using self-portraiture as a tool to crack open the oppressive, often punishing nature of patriarchy."
Self portraiture is a form of photography which has been used for centuries. It's a medium in which an artist can document their own lives and often, their own backgrounds or state of mind. As women, we are often subjected to misogyny and patriarchal views, subsequently encouraging artists to use self portraiture as a form of expression against such issues. The artists and photographers tell their stories of bullying, racism and status, signifying the importance of using ones own voice to bring attention to these difficult issues that women face. Although the themes and discussions are troubling, some of the artists in this exhibition use a unique and inspiring way to express their emotions. Haley Morris-Cafiero's body of work in the exhibition parodies different bully personas by dressing up in costume. Bodybuilder is one of the images from her body of work exploring the narratives of a bully.
In what is still a male dominant profession, women photographers are finally getting the exposure they deserve. Exhibitions like Headstrong are empowering women in the UK, but also worldwide to create, develop and showcase their art.
The exhibition is running at the Centre of British Photography until 23rd April 2023 and is free entry.