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How International Women's Day inspired a SW based photographer to undertake a ground-breaking project about women

Marking International Women’s Day on 8 March, First Women creator and photographer Anita Corbin, reveals how IWD has inspired her work and the search for the women she photographed over thirty years ago..

Somerset photographer, Anita Corbin, has a number of reasons to celebrate International Women’s Day as it provided inspiration for her “Visible Girls” venture which proved to be the springboard for her ground breaking project entitled “First Women”. www.1stwomenuk.co.uk

Anita’s project First Women looks at how women will be remembered over the past 100 years. In the years leading up to 2018, the 100th anniversary of Women’s Suffrage, Anita is shooting and collecting 100 iconic portraits of 21st century women who have achieved the landmark title “First Woman” across a range of fields.

Inspired by the feminist movement of the seventies, in the early eighties, Anita created her “Visible Girls” to capture the blossoming of young women's identity and freedom to be who they wanted to be. 27 years later Anita launched her First Women project, capturing how far women have pushed the boundaries by becoming 'firsts' in their field, whilst retaining their own identities as women.

Anita says, “When I look at this picture taken on a very damp IWD 33 year ago in Brighton I can remember vividly the energy and sense of urgency in the hundreds of marching and chanting women. We were barely five years on from the new Sex Discrimination Act and there was plenty to shout about, we were flexing our political muscles, we were ready to go out and make the most of the new equal opportunities made possible by law. Whether we were striving to 'reclaim the night' or championing 'women's right to choose' or 'embracing the base' there was always a very real connection to the cause - our voices were to be heard. “I was a 3rd year photography student age 22 and I had just been given the biggest break any photographer could dream of; my first published pictures ever and they were in the Sunday Times Magazine, published on March 8th 1981. I also had an honourable mention in the 'Nikon/Sunday Times Young Photojournalist of the Year Award' - What a IWD I had that year and it was the beginning of my career as a photographer.

“Marlise and Noelle, the young women in the double portrait were good friends and part of a large group of supportive women who were carving out an alternative lifestyle and actively breaking down all the stereotypes. I love the way they look like they are just taking a breather from singing at the tops of their voices, I remember the sense of freedom and independence; it was very satisfying.”

Anita continues, “Their portrait was part of my Visible Girls collection, a series of double portraits looking at girls in subcultures; mods, rockers, skins, rastas, new romantics, rockabillies, punks and women in the women's movement - intimate portraits of friends, sisters and lovers between the ages of 16-22, in and around London.

“The entire ‘Visible Girls’ project entitled “ a study of girls in subcultures 1980-1981”, toured the UK with the Cockpit Gallery and then Camerawork until 2004. It is now housed at London South Bank University where the collection helps to inspire and shape the work of their Digital Photography students - 33 years on!” http://www.flickr.com/photos/photographicindex/sets/72157594538834312 In 2014 IWD is still an important marker in the year for Anita, and as part of her documentary collection for First Women, she wants to recreate the portraits 33 years on and ask the women the question...how far have they come?

How you can help – Join the search for the Visible Girls! Anita says, “I’m in contact with some of these women, but I need your help to find the rest…perhaps they are your mother, your sister or your friend?”

http://www.flickr.com/photos/photographicindex/sets/72157594538834312

Anita is appealing to people to click or share the link to these images to see if they or their family or friends recognise these inspirational women. Anyone with information can contact Anita at info@1stwomenuk.co.uk.

Photo captions: Marlise and Noelle in Brighton on International Women’s Day 1981 (and the day Anita had her first picture published)

Further information: Anita Corbin, Tel: 01823 662329 or mob: 07802 613911 or check out: www.1stwomenuk.co.uk

Press information and images from Jane Adkins, Tel 01935 813114 or email: jane@aheadforpr.co.uk or visit: www.aheadforpr.co.uk

Find out more about First Women

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Release Date: 5th March 2014

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