100 Leading Ladies, a photographic exhibition celebrating 100 influential senior female figures in society, opened yesterday at Somerset House. The photographer is award winning Nancy Honey, who clearly had her work cut out for her pinning down these super successful females, as from Germaine Greer to Haleh Afshar, they are from a broad range of professions.
I was at the opening event this week and many of the women photographed turned up to view the exhibition. I saw (in real life!) Martha Kearney – the women I spend most lunchtimes with, frightening the life out of politicians on Radio 4’s World at One. I had to hold back from going ‘hi Martha!” like I knew her, in that scary way you can get when you get too attached to Radio 4 (If I ever meet Jenni Murray I know I’ll chat like I’ve known her for years, because, y’know, I have) and twitter.
Anyway, I held back from embarrassing myself and instead just stalked…Wendy Dagworthy – best dressed by miles – Mrs B (aka Joan Burstein), Jancis Robinson and the lovely Daphne Selfe. Talk about feeling small and insignificant.
The choice of women is incomplete (where WAS Jenni Murray for example) in the way any list is, but I bet it was a nightmare for Nancy trying to edit down to the 100, I hoped to get a word with her at the launch but she was swamped and I couldn’t get near her. It is fantastic to see successful senior women celebrated, we need to make more noise about how amazing older women are, how much they have achieved.
Here’s what Nancy said on the 100 leading Ladies exhibition website
“In my own lifetime I have witnessed a profound shift: from little girls imagining their future as marriage and children to the now total belief from childhood that a woman will grow up to have a career outside the home. It is more important than ever to see the important women from all fields in our society and hear their voices of experience.”
The photographs are quite small -perhaps this will have been to get all 100 in the Somerset House gallery space. I would have liked to see them much bigger as they are full of interest and the women are all inspiring. Blowing them up large would have given even more gravitas to the event and made more visual ‘noise’ about how wonderful these women are. Isn’t that typical of women to not be too loud? Or am I talking cliched bollocks here? What do you think?
Anyway, go see! The exhibition is on until 26th of October, so not long. For those who can’t the website is excellent and has many of the images on it. There are a few interviews too, which make inspiring reading. And there’s a book which features interviews with all the women by Hattie Garlick.