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Can you tell us a bit about what you’ve been doing since we last spoke? How has the Hundred Heroine project expanded?
Since we last spoke, the enthusiasm for the project grew to the point where we realised that it needed to be a separate entity. We separated from the Royal Photographic Society at the end of 2019 and gained our own charitable status in July 2020. In a year, the project has become an independent organisation and a campaign to heighten awareness of the importance of the contribution of women in photography. We are the only UK charity that focuses on women in photography and one of only a few charities that focus on women in the arts.
Because of COVID, the organisation hasn’t expanded in the way we anticipated, which was to start with a major launch exhibition at Photo London, from which we would create an international touring exhibition. Instead, we’ve had to be agile and respond to the current environment with online offerings. For example, we have a growing exhibition of Heroines’ work related to lockdown and COVID; we held an open call for an experimental exhibition, led by Ellen Carey and we have a weekly film festival curated by international film-maker Lisl Ponger. We are also building up our database of information to provide a one-stop resource for people interested in women in photography.

New York City, Two Women Edge of Doom, 1940s-1960s, Esther Bubley © Esther Bubley Archive
Greyhound Bus Terminal. New York City. 1947, Esther Bubley © Esther Bubley Archive

You’ll be exhibiting as part of the Exposure Photography Festival in Feb 2021 with a new online exhibition called “Anemoia: A nostalgia for a time I never knew”, can you give us a bit more information about the theme of the exhibition and the works you will be showing?
Experiencing a time unlike any other in living memory causes the mind to wander and wonder. The monotony of lockdown has us, at Hundred+ Heroines, reaching for our rose-tinted glasses and daydreaming of another time, before Zoom and before social distancing to a time that was seemingly simpler. That is why we have created an online gallery to try and capture a feeling of joyful memory – Anemoia: A Nostalgia for a Time I Never Knew.
Showcasing seven of our Historical Heroines, women who have been pioneers in photography but may have been under-celebrated or under-appreciated, we hope to escape into another world for a moment. To fantasise what it would be like to be a kid in New York City and play under a fire hydrant spraying water or to enjoy a band outside in the hot summer sun, laughing in close proximity of one another (without the lingering smell of hand sanitizer or an old used mask of the floor).
We hope that those who even miss spending hours wandering galleries and museums can find familiarity within the virtual walls of our exhibition. And although nostalgia can warp times and places into warmth rather than the cold harsh reality; that perhaps it wasn’t as romantic as we would have liked to have imagined. We’re hoping to wear our rose-tinted glasses for as long as possible so that when we can enjoy life’s joys once more, we won’t feel jaded or bitter. Hopeful that one time in the distant future, people will pop on their own pink shades and reminisce of a time post-Covid when everyone appreciated the things around them a little bit more. Featured artists are Berenice Abbott, Edith Tudor-Hart, Esther Bubley, Fanny Foster, Gerti Deutsch, Nancy Sheung and Homai Vyarawalla.

Rockefeller Center. New York City, Esther Bubley © Esther Bubley Archive

Can you share your views on how the current Covid crisis has affected the visibility of women in the arts? (you previously mentioned courage as one of the characteristics you were looking for in the heroines you nominate).
I certainly feel as though I’ve seen a lot more women in photography during lockdown, but I suspect this is because everything is online and we can curate our own viewing experiences and I have chosen wisely. I’ve attended talks in Australia, New York and London – all on the same day without leaving my desk. Lockdown has made it easier to filter out what we don’t want to see, as well as being the source of inspiration behind some interesting new work from many of the Heroines.
On the other hand, I know many women artists are bearing the brunt of the responsibility for home-schooling, added to which, their exhibitions have been cancelled so their visibility has diminished. The majority of arts newsletters in my inbox still feature more men than women and the statistics still show that women are under-represented in cultural programming

Toni Parks, daughter of photographer Gordon Parks. New York City. 1948, Esther Bubley © Esther Bubley Archive

Given your experience and working with various historic examples, what kind of advice can you give women working in the field of photography and art today?
Easier said than done, because so many women underplay their achievements and are too modest, but you need to make a noise and be seen. Don’t give up. Keep pushing, knock on every door and get yourself out there. Stand up for yourself and what you believe in.

Lastly, where can you see/envisage/hope the future of the Hundred Heroines project heading?
That it’s seen as a movement and organisation, rather than a project; that it becomes a household name, but most importantly, that we help achieve the overdue recognition of women in photography. We need to ensure that the world knows about the work the Heroines are creating, that they have their rightful place in the history books of the future and we need to put the record straight about the women pioneers in photography. Once we’re through the pandemic and its fallout, we are really looking forward to resurrecting our plans for a Heroines Collection that will form the basis of a touring, living exhibition.

Gerti German, Sabbioneta, Italy 1961, Gerti Deutsch © FOTOHOF archive and Getty Images

Learn more about Hundred Heroines on hundredheroines.org