Women in Focus – National Museum of Wales

The Women in Focus exhibition is a two-part exhibition. Currently, the first part is on display which focusing on ‘Women Behind the Lens’ which celebrates a range of female photographers throughout history and some pioneering female photographers in Wales. This exhibitions including the work of Clementine Schneidermann and Mary Dillwyn. The brief at the beginning of the exhibition gives the audience an outline of it to help them grasp an understanding of the work whilst exploring through the different works, themes and representations. The brief also stated that this exhibition is to celebrate the first stage of progression for equality – the right to vote for women in 1918. Over the last 100 years men and women have become more equal especially through the arts.

I was particularly interested in the work of Sian Davey’s who displays two pieces: Martha and Alice which were two series of photographs she produced. I mostly focused on the piece ‘Martha’, an artwork which involved 10 young women, the artists’ daughter and her friends posing with a range of attitudes and reactions to their exposure. I over heard from another visitor in the exhibition that Davey’s spent almost two years gaining the trust of her daughters friends for this photoshoot. I interpreted this photo a trust and confidence photo because you can see from the positioning of the girls and each of their expressions they all have different levels of security and willingness to be visible in it. When looking at this piece of art the question “What if it was a male photographer’s work?” comes to mind which would change the response of the audience and possibly make the work into an objectification piece. At first glance, the image looks as though the models are being exposed and documented behind the lens but, when you begin to look more closely at their expressions, you can start to see a softer, more insecure representation. This made me realise the work was not to objectify but to gain the trust of the models.

I feel I responded well to this exhibition because it conveys similar subjects as my theme of female equality and, made me question the common reaction it is getting as well as  how it could be very different if the artist was male.

Author: ninasartspace

A first year Fine Art degree student studying at Cardiff Metropolitan University.

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