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‘Stories of Light’ photography exhibition now on with WH!P Collective

Twenty-five members of Women of the Hunter in Photography (WH!P Collective) currently have their works on display at Newcastle’s Watt Space Gallery as part of their ‘Stories of Light’ exhibition.

‘Stories of Light’ is a two-month program celebrating and encouraging local contemporary photographic storytelling from 25 members of the WH!P Collective. The exhibition has been described as an anthology of lens-based stories devised around a sense of place, the personal, the familial and the inspirational.

Led by University of Newcastle art curator Gillean Shaw and WH!P founder Edwina Richards, ‘Stories Of Light’ features work from some of the region’s leading photographers and also celebrates a collection of work by Liz O’Brien, an original and active member of WH!P until her passing in 2022.

We sat down with ‘WH!Pper’ Emma Warren to find out more about WH!P and this incredible exhibition. 

Can you tell us a bit about the WH!P Collective?

Women of the Hunter !n Photography (WH!P) was founded in 2020 and now has over 30 members (25 are exhibiting in ‘Stories of Light’).

One of WH!P’s founding values was to address through positive action the persistent gender bias in the professional world of photography, by embracing and creating opportunities for professional female photographers from the Hunter region. It also aims to leverage the combined skills, experience and credentials of its members, and encourage a culture of support, celebration, exchange, education, advocacy, action, enjoyment, play and growth.

WH!P aspires to actively raise the profile of contemporary photographic excellence, education and experimentation in the Hunter Region and to work collaboratively with those both within and beyond the local area who share our belief: that the world should be shown through a photography lens as diverse as the real world.

Achol and the Ocean by Hilda Bezuidenhout
Untitled by Em Warren

What do you see as being the main benefits of being a part of WH!P?

Firstly, it’s FUN! Being surrounded by amazingly talented and strong women is an absolute joy – there’s so much support and willingness to provide mentoring and advice too.

There is also power in coming together as a collective which allows us to share skills and experience as we apply for grants and create exhibition opportunities for the group, as well as raise the profiles of female and non-binary photographers.

How would you best describe the Stories of Light exhibition?

The exhibition is quite eclectic – it almost defies explanation. As WH!P Collective is a diverse, multi-genre group, our approaches, passions and skills are really different too. As such, this show contains a vast array of different photographic styles and presentations of works – it’s a window into the amazing talent in our region and the breadth of stories we have to tell. 

It’s also a great opportunity for individuals and organisations to purchase art by local creatives.

I understand there’s a couple of events/workshops running in conjunction with the exhibition?

As a collective, we’re really interested in dismantling the gate-keeping and barriers that have been traditionally put in place when it comes to photography. On May 4th we’re holding a (Shutter) Speed Dating Event at the Olive Tree Markets with our members on hand to answer questions about camera gear, phone photography and career paths in the industry – anyone can rock up between 10am – 12pm and chat with a WH!Pper.

Additionally, our founder Edwina Richards is hosting a night photography workshop on May 18th, the final in a series of successful workshops we’ve run throughout the exhibition.

Why do you think so many artists and photographers are drawn to Newcastle and what’s the best thing about being a photographer here?

We’re so lucky in Newcastle to have urban vistas as well as rural landscapes, rainforests and our glorious coastline surrounding us. There’s so much here to inspire any photographer, as well as a strong community of artists and galleries supporting local talent.

Vermilion Blues by Katherine Williams

Due to record-breaking popularity the exhibition has been extended to Saturday May 18th. Watt Space Gallery is open Wed-Fri 10am to 5pm and Saturdays 12-4pm.

The exhibition was made possible thanks to support from City of Newcastle, The University of Newcastle, Watt Space Gallery, and TiNA.

Words: Hannah Mills

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