Image: detail from Clare Strand, Aerial Suspension, 2009. Arts Council Collection, Southbank Centre, London © The Artist

This exhibition presented, for the first time in over 30 years, a comprehensive historical survey of the achievements of female photographers working in Britain. From the early innovations of Anna Atkins through to Dorothy Bohm's documentation of 1960s London and the contemporary self-portraiture of Sarah Lucas in the 1990s, Britain has cultivated a long tradition of trailblazing women who made a significant contribution to the medium of photography.

The works featured will dated from the mid-19th century through to 2009 and charted progressions in style, technique and popular subject matter. Early notable photographers include Julia Margaret Cameron, Lady Hawarden and Queen Alexandra. Works have been generously lent by many leading museums and galleries including by Her Majesty The Queen from the Royal Collection, Tate, Victoria & Albert Museum, Arts Council Collection, British Council Collection, National Portrait Gallery, Scottish National Portrait Gallery and Lee Miller Archive.


Urania from the series Zabat, 1989, Maud Sulter © The Estate of Maud Sulter. Courtesy of National Galleries of Scotland

The display was presented chronologically through five key themes running throughout the exhibition: 'Photographic Processes' as demonstrated by Anna Atkins, Susan Derges and Joy Gregory; 'Staging the Scene', where artists create a narrative with their compositions, as is the case with artists such as Emma Barton, Eveleen Myers and Mitra Tabrizian; 'Photo Journalism', a theme which started from the early 1900s with Olive Edis through to Edith Tudor-Hart, Lee Miller, Grace Robertson and Val Wilmer. 'Interiors and Spaces' which reflected on women's role and position within society; and 'Race and Representation', that explored issues surrounding diversity and inclusion as represented by Gabriella Sancisi, Sonia Boyce and Maud Sulter, among others.

To complement the photographs on display, Professor Jean Wainwright from the University of Creative Arts compiled new and archival interviews with a selection of the artists included in the exhibition. The interviews were installed as conversations directly referring to the artists' individual photographs on display. 

The exhibition is generously supported by a Jonathan Ruffer Curatorial Research Grant from Art Fund and a grant from The Arts Society.

30 January 2019 – 2 June 2019