A Group of Artists Exploring What it Means to Be a Woman

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Artwork by Alexandria Coe

Womanhood in 2018 is the focus of a medium-spanning exhibition in London

“This exhibition is about the meaning of ‘woman’ without limitation,” enthuses Daisy Walker, photographer and founder of non-profit organisation Women in Fashion. A new exhibition – titled simply Woman – sees the platform host over 20 artists in Rapid Eye’s Shoreditch space, the work on show forming an intimate compendium of how contemporary artists have responded to the exhibit’s title. Walker describes how “the theme ‘woman’ seemed a natural one, as the themes of gender and provoking change through conversation are at the core of Women in Fashion,” which, as an offline platform, produces exclusive, small events – the number of attendees is usually capped at 15 – where issues like diversity and discrimination are discussed, with a view to affecting positive change in the fashion industry.

A celebration of the female, Woman is a captivating look at both new and existing work by some of today’s most exciting creative talents. A tangible sense of freedom permeates the artworks. “We’ve been very careful to not place any restrictions on the theme or on the artists themselves, so be prepared to see entirely new mediums of expression from artists that you wouldn’t expect,” says Walker. “We have drawings from photographers, poetry from models, photography from stylists…”

A ‘spilled coffee’ nude by Larissa Hofmann (“her work evokes so many of the themes that touch me very personally and that have been a basis for the artists we have asked to be a part of this,” says Walker), captivating photography depicting a woman in repose, a baby breastfeeding and a bucket full of bras balanced atop a woman’s head by Alice Joiner, Laura Jane Coulson and Eddie Wrey respectively, and an intimate self-portrait by Walker herself all feature in the compelling and varied collection.

“For me, womanhood is always about power and the body,” says Walker of how she approached the exhibition’s theme. “In my own work I am always exploring the role between the body and identity and have often sought self-portraits and nudes as a means of understanding and reclaiming my body.” It was serendipitous that the photographer had taken a series of images with a new camera by way of testing the equipment out, and thus had a selection of mesmerising, hazy shots to contribute to the show – though she had never intended to exhibit them. “In some ways that makes them much more intimate,” she says. As such, Woman became a question of empowerment and identity for Walker. “[The photographs] will go alongside poetry which was never intended to be heard, so it’s really a demonstration of the inner and outer body and using art to process personal trauma and reclaim my body, as a woman.” In exhibiting her own work alongside that of her contemporaries, Walker hopes the show “offers up a discourse on what it means to be a woman in 2018”.

The collaboration between Women in Fashion and Rapid Eye is central to Woman, as the latter space forms an important part of many of the artists’ practices (Walker and Hofmann even met in one of its darkrooms). Walker attests that Rapid Eye is “a hub unlike any other, that offers a community and camaraderie very akin to Women in Fashion, which is why it has been the most perfect partnership for such a personal exhibition. And what a wonderful way to celebrate so many of the artists that make work there.”

Woman is at Rapid Eye, Shoreditch, on October 18, 2018.