Words by Smiley Team
For decades, the contribution of women has been written out of photographic history, says Dr Del Barrett, the founder of UK charity Hundred Heroines.
“The airbrushing of women from the story of photography continues in education where a typical photography curriculum will focus on male photographers,” she explains. “It can be discouraging for young women considering a career in photography – as creative or producer – not to see women represented in the canon.
“The Heroines (women and non-binary photographers) challenge how we see the world, push artistic and social boundaries, and highlight human rights issues – and more people need to know this.”
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Del’s charity is the only one of its kind dedicated to promoting women in photography. Through innovative exhibitions and events, Hundred Heroines aims to bring about a more equal representation in cultural programming and encourage audiences to explore issues around gender equality and diversity.
“By constantly reminding the ‘gatekeepers’ about the contribution women have made, Hundred Heroines is part of the ripple effect, with more organisations (and not just in the arts) now looking at their own gender ratios, and making commitments around gender equality,” says Del. “We can’t operate in a vacuum, but the further the ripples spread, the closer we get to achieving gender parity.”
The charity runs an initiative called ‘Bootcamps’, which is an arts engagement programme that delivers online communication training – writing, research, social media – and critical engagement with photography supported via weekly wellbeing sessions.
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A key feature of the programme is highlighting potential pathways to employment in creative fields. “In line with our wider work, we ensure Bootcamp reflects and celebrates this diversity and encourages collaboration between people of all backgrounds,” says Del.
Through the Bootcamps, volunteering opportunities and internships, Hundred Heroines is leading the way in creating opportunities for young people to develop their employability in a creative capacity.
“This charity is my life,” says Del. “I live, eat and breathe Hundred Heroines. We have ambitious plans and I want to see these come to fruition before I hang up my boots. Even as a child, I had an innate sense of fairness.
"The more I realised that so many women were being overlooked in the arts, the more determined I became to do something that might contribute to a fairer world.”
Find out more about the Hundred Heroines charity on its website.