On Monday I visited a photographic exhibition “All Woman – a modern Portrait of New Zealand Women” by photographer Bev Short.
The portraits are of New Zealand women ranging in age from teen to 90 years old and who have achieved in disparate activities and often against the odds.
I loved this exhibition. Alongside each portrait was a “story” or short biography about the woman pictured. I adore people’s stories. So I read eagerly.
Within many of the stories were little connections that matched my experiences as a female born in the 1950’s being buffeted by gender discrimination; growing in awareness in the 60’s and 70’s; volunteering in both Parents Centre and Playcentre where empowerment underpinned the work; working in community education; facilitating women’s self awareness and personal growth and development; observing others compassion and strong sense of social justice.
So as I read my feelings swung from sad recognition, to feelings of affirmation and strength, to acknowledgement and wisdom, to bewilderment over how much work is still required to gain equity and to wonder over so many startling achievements by women despite the odds and the tug of biology.
And, of course, there were photos to soak up. Some were vivid and colourful, others darker featuring light in a different way. Some were active shots, others with a stillness. All reflecting, in some way, the woman portrayed.
Several struck me deeply: the powerfully warm, deep connection between a woman and her horse; the serene, confident stillness of a teenage mother who has blossomed in her academic studies; the soft beauty and colour of a nurse who had worked in war ravaged countries; the deeply powerful image of a woman who had escaped a violent relationship, but who had behind her all the women who had died in a domestic violence situation since she had escaped.
I could go on……The exhibition has been extended until 22nd July 2012 and it is free. If you read along in Wellington, make time to go.
And since viewing the exhibition I have thought a lot about judgement and how “the map is not the territory”……Alfred Korzybski