Photography exhibition shows rarely seen images of women in war
October 12, 2017
A new photography exhibition chronicles female perspectives of war through rarely-seen images.
Taken by nurses, ambulance drivers and official photographers, the collection gives an insight into life on the frontline as a woman.
No Man’s Land features the work of three female photographers of the First World War alongside three women in the same field a century later.
Curator Dr. Pippa Oldfield said: “Most people think of war photography as images of male soldiers, made by photojournalists in the combat zone.
“However, the work in No Man’s Land shows many other ways to photograph war, offering different viewpoints by women who have historically been excluded. I hope visitors will be moved and surprised by what they see”.
The photography exhibition runs at the Impressions Gallery, Centenary Square, Bradford, BD1 1SD, until December 30, 2017, before touring in Bristol, Leigh and Bishop Auckland in 2018.
Motorcyclist-turned-ambulance driver Mairi Chisholm (1886–1981) set up a First Aid post on the Western Front with her friend Elsie Knocker. Using snapshot cameras, they recorded their intense life under fire at Pervyse in Belgium, just yards from the trenches.
Olive Edis is thought to be the UK’s first female official war photographer sent to a war zone. During her career, she photographed everyone from Prime Ministers to Suffragettes and, during the Armistice, she was commissioned by the Women’s Work Subcommittee of the Imperial War Museum to photograph the British Army’s auxiliary services in France and Flanders.
Nurse and amateur photographer Florence Farmborough (1887–1978) photographed her experiences with the Russian Red Cross on the border of Galicia (present-day Ukraine and Poland). Her work is harrowing, depicting graphic images like this corpse lying in the battlefield seen below.
Contemporary photographer Alison Baskerville is a former soldier herself so her portraits of present-day women have an inside perspective.
She said: “It’s a privilege to be exhibiting alongside such inspiring and fascinating women. Despite the distance of a hundred years, their images are still so raw and powerful. As someone who has served in Afghanistan, I recognise the challenges of being a women in a war zone, and the importance of sharing that story”.
Dawn Cole’s photography is inspired by her great-aunt’s diary, who was a Voluntary Aid Detachment nurse in Northern France. Her work combines digital manipulation and photography.
Chloe Dewe Mathews
Chloe Dewe Mathews’ images from the collection Shot at Dawn try to reveal the ‘secret history’ of British, French and Belgian troops who were executed for cowardice and desertion. Her photos depict the sites where they were shot or held between 1914 and 1918.