Exhibition | Visible Girls: Revisited - Bristol | Photography at Trinity Community Arts | Bristol | Art Week

Visible Girls: Revisited - Bristol

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Thursday, 6 September 2018 to Thursday, 4 October 2018

Visible Girls: Revisited, isa photography commission and national travelling exhibition of female portraits by photographer Anita Corbin. The exhibition brings together original images of women from different subcultures of the early 1980s and newly commissioned portraits of the same women now.

The work will reunite women with their adolescent selves, exploring the ways in which photography can reveal and reflect upon identity and society at various stages of women's lives.   

In 1981, as a young female photographer at the beginning of her career, Corbin made 28 double portraits of young women from different cultural groups: skins, mods, punks, rockabillies, new romantics, rastas and young lesbians. She was fascinated by the ways in which cultural allegiance and identity were boldly and explicitly expressed through fashion, music and environment by women emerging from adolescence. 

Captured in their natural hangouts of clubs, pubs, friends’ homes and social centres, these girls were living in the moment and dreaming of the future. The groundbreaking project, Visible Girls, toured the UK in the 80s and 90s, showing in youth clubs, town halls and libraries. The images are a rarity for the time, not only because of their subjects but because of the photographer's technical approach using slow colour film and portable flash.

In 2016 Corbin launched an international social media campaign in order to track the women down. Now, 38 years later and with over 80% of the women found, the original images of those young women will be displayed alongside a new series - of the women they became. 

Anita Corbin says: 

‘This exhibition is not only about the powerful bond between women united by subculture, belief and friendship, but about the potential of women coming together across generations. Visible Girls: Revisited, allows the ‘visibility’ of youth to shine a light on the often-disregarded wisdom of the older woman, revealing a unique, cross-generational tribe with the power to provoke and inspire. Visible Girls: Revisited is an exhibition where mothers and daughters will find mutually provocative ground through which to forge a rare solidarity - that at this point in our history we need more than ever.’

Alongside the images will be original tape recordings of interviews with some of the girls from 1981 and interviews with them now. Individual stories behind each image will be revealed, exploring how the women's lives have changed since the original shot was taken. What has happened in those 38 years? Have their lives developed as they imagined? How have changes in society and its attitudes to women affected them?

The 56 women who feature in the images were mainly from London but some were on a day trip or on holiday in the city when Corbin photographed them, many are now living in Europe or further afield. The exhibition tours England and each location will have a unique presentation inspired by the voice of the city.

Claire Hildreth says of being tracked down and recaptured:

‘As soon as I saw the title of the Buzzfeed article [the first official shout-out for the original Visible Girls back in 2014] I remembered having had our photo taken by Anita back in 1981. When I first saw the picture again it was a bit embarrassing but also kind of cute!  The music was the most important thing to me at the time and I dressed how I did to let people know that. The politics that went with the 2Tone scene were part of who I was and have, in part shaped who I am now. Myself and Lisa stayed friends through the years.’

Do you know any of these Visible Girls? The search continues for the remaining 20% of the missing subjects - join us on social media and help us find them #VisibleGirls.

A special ‘In Conversation’ on Tuesday 18 September 2018 at 6pm between Bristolian Visible Girl, Sue aka Squasher and Photographer Anita Corbin will accompany the Bristol Trinity exhibition.

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Trinity Centre, Trinity Road, Bristol BS2 0NW

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