EXHIBITION: 209 Women
10 January 2019
To mark 100 years since some women achieved the right to vote, 209 new photographic portraits of all female MPs, shot exclusively by female photographers have taken over parliament with an exhibition, which is free and open to the public. 20 of our members were selected to take part.
Alys Tomlinson - Carol Allen Storey - Carol Sharp - Carolyn Mendelsohn - Clare Park - Emily Andersen - Jillian Edelstein - Julia Fullerton-Batten - Karen Knorr - Kate Abbey - Kate Peters - Lauren Forster - Maisie Marshall - Nicola Morley - Nicola Tree - Reme Campos - Stephanie Wynne - Susan Bell - Tina Hillier - Wendy Carrig
'209 Women' is a national artist-led project founded by Hilary Wood that aims to champion the visibility of women, particularly in male-dominated environments.
On 14th December 1918 women voted for the first time, and in the same year the first female MP was elected. 100 years on, this project marks that significant moment in history, whilst also highlighting the ongoing need for gender equality across society.
‘209 Women’ is displayed at Portcullis House until 14 February 2019, and free tickets are available here
The project is presented in association with brand Aston Martin Lagonda and Power of Women Series, and supported by Montessori St Nicholas. It is delivered in partnership with Open Eye Gallery, Liverpool City Council, The Royal Photographic Society and The Sorority.
Here are a selection of images taken by AOP Members:
Lisa Nancy, MP for Wigan. @ Alys Tomlinson
Esther McVey MP for Tatton. © Carol Allen-Storey
Today, more than every there is a dynamic ground swell for women supporting women in a world where men dominate the hierarchy in a myriad of industries. The pioneering suffragette were on the frontline to secure the right for women to vote, to have a voice. United, we are stronger in achieving the goals of our destiny. It is with great pride that I am a part of the 209 Women Photographers Collective – a celebration to honour the 209 women who serve as members of parliament. Carol Allen-Storey
Esther Louise McVey is a British Conservative Party politician who served as Secretary of State for Work and Pensions from January 2018 to November 2018, and has served as Member of Parliament (MP) for Tatton since 2017.She was the MP for Wirral West in the House of Commons from 2010 to 2015.
Before entering politics, McVey was a businesswoman and television presenter, and co-presented GMTV with Eamonn Holmes. McVey served in the Cameron Government as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Disabled People from 2012 to 2013, prior to being appointed Minister of State at the Department for Work and Pensions from 2013 to 2015.
Caroline Lucas MP for Brighton. © Carol Sharp
Although plant portraiture is more my usual genre, I was very pleased to be part of 209women. Caroline Lucas is one of the most hardworking and genuine MPs and as the only Green MP was the obvious choice for me.
The image tells of her vision of a green parliament. I used the trees to represent not only the environment, but their wisdom and strength, and as recent science tells us their co-operation, working together and as part of the larger ecosystem. Carol Sharp
Judith Cummins, MP for Bradford South. © Carolyn Mendelsohn
Being part of the 209 women initiative has been a privilege. It is such a wonderful and positive way of helping highlight gender equality by visually representing the women MP’s and at the same time has been a fascinating process. I chose to photograph Judith Cummins MP, it has been a real pleasure to have quality time to take her portrait and also at the same to have those important conversations with Judith and other women involved. Carolyn Mendelsohn
Dr Sarah Wollaston MP for Totnes. © Clare Park
After my preliminary meeting with Sarah Wollaston at Westminster, we both felt a portrait shot on location in her constituency, South Devon, suited her more natural personality. After some investigation I eventually decided to shoot on Combestone Tor, Dartmoor. The hard fissured granite shot in black and white could provide a strong metaphor for the fractured world of politics, as too her constituency divided by Brexit. Sarah and I agreed that she should arrive wearing a formal dark suit, as opposed to her cycling kit, as this could provide a simple but visually interesting juxtaposition against the rock. No props, no styling, no assistant - just the two of us!
Time was short after starting late because of a jack-knifed caravan and our window of opportunity being squeezed in before a radio interview and Newsnight. In the worsening weather I grabbled for the visual story I had envisaged and as we had virtually circumnavigated the Tor I caught this image of Sarah looking outwards across the land. For me her expression conveys not only her strength of character but also her compassion. Later that night I watched Newsnight - same dress, same genuine person with no front. An impressive woman!
209 MP’s by 209 photographers
“There seems to be a great deal of ignorance about how many women are working as MP’s, often juggling several roles in their lives. Now we have an inclusive public photographic exhibition that acknowledges this fact. It is particularly important for the younger generation to understand the need for more equality in government. The photographs of the 209 members of parliament taken by the same number of women have also highlighted a similar comment ‘I didn’t know there were so many female photographers!’ Now is a time for change and progress.” Clare Park
Ruth Smeeth MP for Stoke-on-Trent North. © Emily Andersen
It was an honour to photograph Ruth Smeeth because I knew about her work for ‘Hope not hate’, and her commitment as an MP. She suggested places in her constituency, Stoke-on-Trent North. I photographed her in a brewery, a pottery and a regenerated park.
We talked throughout the shoot, about her political life, her feeling for her constituents and her mother who was a trade unionist. My assistant Gordon Jackson (who is an AOP member) and I were touched by her openness and honesty.
I wanted to create a portrait that showed Ruth in contemplation and stillness, a moment in contrast to her hectic daily life. Emily Andersen
Tulip Saddiq MP for Hampstead and Kilburn. © Jillian Edelstein
Seema Kennedy MP for South Ribble in Lancashire. © Julia Fullerton-Batten
I chose to photograph Seema in St Stephen’s Hall in the Houses of Parliament, which is gloriously full of art and sculptures. It is lined with statues of famous male parliamentarians mounted on pedestals facing one another on either side of the Hall. I posed Seema standing demurely elevated on a pedestal of her own and eye-balling the rows of serious looking statues. She wears a Vivienne Westwood suit which blends in well with her surroundings. She flamboyantly holds her jacket aloft as if to say to the rows of silent males, ‘Here I am, a woman MP in your midst’.
Seema Kennedy has been the MP for South Ribble in Lancashire since 2015. She is Private Secretary to Prime Minister Theresa May and the first MP of Iranian descent to sit in the House. In 2016, Seema collaborated with the Labour MP Jo Cox to establish a commission to tackle loneliness. Tragically, Jo Cox was murdered just before the 2016 referendum. Now Seema carries on the project with another Labour MP and close friend of Jo Cox's, Rachel Reeves. Julia Fullerton-Batten
Diane Abbott MP for Hackney North & Stoke Newington. © Karen Knorr
Rachael Maskell MP for York Central. © Kate Abbey
I would struggle to find a person with more integrity than Rachael Maskell. I found her pragmatic and open character utterly engaging and her hugely principled understanding of the needs of her constituents very humbling.
The York Skyline distorting her portrait, not only reflected her concerns with the gentrification of the inner city and the pushing out of local residents but also gave a nod to the tireless campaigning she does for better mental health facilities within her constituency. I left the shoot feeling York was in safe hands with Rachael at the helm. Kate Abbey
Jackie Doyle-Price MP for Thurrock. © Lauren Forster
Jessica Morden Labour MP for Newport East. © Maisie Marshall
Jo Swinson MP for East Dunbartonshire. © Nicola Tree
Jo Swinson is the elected MP for East Dunbartonshire which was recently voted the by Radio 4 Womens Hour as the best place to live in Britain for women. Her beautiful constituency spans sixty seven square miles of incredible green space. Jo takes full advantage of this and regularly runs the hills and loch’s regardless of the weather and this shoot proved no exception!
209 Women is a inspiring initiative, I believe it is only by providing an alternative visual narrative women can truly be inspired to achieve. Jo Swinson
Rebecca Harris MP for Castle Point. © Reme Campos
Margaret Greenwood MP for Wirral West and Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions - photographed on Woodchurch Estate in her constituency. ©Stephanie Wynne
Dr Rosena Allin-Khan MP for Tooting. © Wendy Carrig
Makeup & hair - Frances Prescott
Photographer's Assistant - Julie Stewart