Olivia Poloni, Curator
In Her Words is an exhibition that celebrates image making dictated by women, both behind and in front of the camera. It brings together Horsham Regional Art Gallery Collection works, that range from the 1970s to current day, and exhibits them alongside a number of key practitioners in the contemporary field. The exhibition features the works of 27 artists who use the lens as a tool to record the personal and universal world around us.
Polixeni Papapetrou’s images in this exhibition continue to reflect on the relationship between herself and her daughter. Exploring motherhood, childhood and also, for the first-time, selfhood and her own relationship with the camera. Papapetrou’s works have traversed through documenting the stories of subcultures and capturing vast and varied imagined worlds. Imaginary worlds are also explored in this exhibition through the work of Julie Rrap, where we see videos of notable women artists in slumber. They snooze amongst pristine white sheets, a blank canvas, where their artistic ideas are born in their dreams. Hoda Afshar’s images also discuss navigating worlds but this passage is between two very real worlds, her birth country of Iran and her new home Australia.
The body and its relationship to its surrounding environment is explored in the work of Clare Rae. By placing her body within architectural and environmental structures, she brings forth questions around the position of women’s bodies in the world. Likewise, Kawita Vatanajyankur places herself within the frame and uses it to discuss the social and economic positions of women within Southeast Asia, and in this exhibition within clothing production and labour. Kirsten Lyttle also discusses women’s labour, within her traditional Māori cultural history and shows us found historical images of women in production – weaving. Lyttle reconnects with these images by hand weaving the photographic paper in traditional Māori weaving patterns and forms to create the finished work. The use of form, fold and the body is also explored in the work of Anne Ferran who has built a longstanding practice using movement and fabric to discuss endurance and the female condition. Linsey Gosper’s diptych in this exhibition continues her interest in gender, identity and sexuality from a queer feminist perspective. She uses the androgynous body to celebrate a future where gender stereotypes are disused and less restrictive identities are the norm.
Karla Dickens is a Wiradjuri artist who works with a variety of mediums investigating her Indigenous heritage, sexuality and life experiences as a single mother. Here we see raw and challenging photographs centered on the rampant epidemic of violence and discrimination against women, the bodies absent from the screen but the painful realities present.
We see the body absent/concealed in Cherine Fahd’s images inspired by 19th century ‘hidden mother’ images. Here the artist juxtaposes her concealed image with a found image of a mother staring straight at the camera, aimed to give each woman presence and agency as opposed to erasing them.
I take this opportunity to extend thanks and gratitude to the artists included in this exhibition and their galleries for their support; to Athena Bella for her considered words; to Michelle Mountain for her ongoing support and contextualising the Collection works; Adam Harding for his immediate enthusiasm for this project and to NETS Victoria and Horsham Regional Art Gallery who made this project possible.