Arts & Culture: The W Project

To mark 100 years of International Women’s Day, The W Project are celebrating the most fabulous women in the arts, fashion and culture with an exhibition held at The Russian Club Galleries.  This will be combined with a series of talks from the likes of Fred Butler, Josephine Crime and All Walks Beyond The Catwalk. OhDearism caught up with some of the talent involved…

Jiggery Pokery are Art Directors Anna Lomax and Lauren Davies and have created anything from window displays to art projects for the likes of Nike, Selfridges, Becks and Don’t Panic. Their playful mix of pop-culture, psychedelia, glitter and a sense girlish wonder at the world around them has gained them somewhat of a cult following on the creative scene.  They are creating a project called Infinite Possibilities for The W Project.

“To be chosen as positive role models for International Women’s Day is probably the biggest compliment we could hope for,” say Lauren and Anna. “There are so many inspiring role models for women out there, all working hard to conquer new fields and taking the world by storm but at the same time much of the really accessible media coverage has a really negative effect on young women too. There is too much emphasis on image and perfection which is unobtainable and causes all sorts of psychological issues.”

Has it been hard for them to succeed in a male-dominated industry? “From very early on we had support from our close male contemporaries but it took a while for others to realise that we were out there doing exciting stuff,” they admit. “At one of the large events we did, an acquaintance of Anna’s boyfriend came up to her and was like, “Wow, I didn’t realise you actually did something… I just thought you were someone’s girlfriend!” Neither of us have ever felt we needed to show off about projects we were working on as we have worked very hard to get to where we are and feel confident in the work we produce but it is funny when a guy looks at your website after three years of knowing you and is surprised by what you’ve achieved.”

Photographer Amy Gwatkin agrees that today’s culture is so focused on sexual allure and perfection that it can sometimes be hard to find positive female role models. “Sometimes I do look at how sexualised culture has become on the most everyday, banal level, and I’m not sure this is an empowering, liberating form of sexualisation,” she says. “In a sense I think we’ve gone backwards. A good index of that is how young women think of feminism. I think for many people the term has become synonymous with a bitter, angry, po-faced misandry, which is obviously not what feminism is about. It makes me sad that girls would be shy to stand up and say that they deserve to be treated with the same respect as their male counterparts.”

Gwatkin’s photographs are a stunning mix of edgy fashion and personal moments, blurring the lines between editorial and the everyday. Her unique outlook on what is beautiful has led to commissions by Dazed and Confised, Nylon and Attitude. Her images capture the raw emotion of her subjects while embracing the strong femininity of the women in her pictures.

The project aims to celebrate all versions on femininity, whether aggressive and strong or subtle and quietly persistent. “There is still a myth that to be a successful woman you have to behave aggressively,” agrees photographer Nina Manandhar, who takes gritty shots on the streets of her native London. “I think its more about being tenacious and persistent, whether you’re male or female.”

The W Project: Blessed Are The Art Makers takes place between the 8th March (private view) and 11th March at The Russian Club Gallery, London, E8 4DA

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