Some of the faces are instantly recognisable, some aren’t - but all the women featured in the NZ Portrait Gallery’s exhibition All Woman have a unique story to tell.
Wellington-based photographer Bev Short has spent more than two years travelling the length and breadth of New Zealand capturing images of women who inspire her. From a Carmelite nun to Olympic sportswoman Barbara Kendall ironing in her curlers - the result is a collection of original and intimate portraits capturing the essence of Kiwi women.
“The women I met really opened up to me about their lives which I was so grateful to them for,” Short says. “It gives the results more depth and produced images which I hope will in turn inspire those looking at them.” Many of the women featured have had to overcome entrenched gender-biased attitudes as they made their mark in their chosen occupation.
Inspired by the work of portrait photographers such as Annie Leibovitz, Short knew the images had to be more than just a snapshot. “It was important to me that the personality and character of the women I met came through. The photos needed to make the viewer want to take a second look.”
Alongside famous faces such as the Topp twins, former Wellington mayor Kerry Prendergast, poet Dame Fiona Kidman and comedian Michele A’Court are “ordinary” Kiwi women - a pilot, an electrician, a genetic scientist, a refugee.
“The chains of gender have been a challenge for many of the women I met. But rather than work in jobs that were practical, safe and steady, they opted for things which stirred their imaginations,” Short explains. “I really admired their spirit and energy. I wanted to celebrate that, but also to share their stories and images with a wider public.”
There will be a series of lunchtime talks from women associated with All Woman throughout the duration of the exhibition. For more dates and times see the website.