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Interview with Virginia Woods-Jack - #IWD2020

Updated: Jul 20, 2020

To find out more about our interviews for #IWD2020 head to

Virginia Woods-Jack is a photographic artist working with in camera and traditional film based processes to create her work. An investigative approach sees each piece start with a question or point of interest which is then responded to photographically, her preferred traditional techniques becoming a vehicle for considered and mindful representation which she hopes will be shared in the experience of the viewer. She is the founder of Women in Photography NZ & AU, a platform to highlight women and non-binary creators working in photo based arts.

We asked Virginia how her work is impacted by an awareness of gender and found out more about the Women in Photography platform she’s established.

I think it would be impossible for my gender to not influence my work as ,in part, it deals with the human experience from the perspective of being a woman - how I see things and the work is a reflection or imprint of that.

I neither focus on or avoid gender but I am always aware of how gender impacts my experience of being a human. When I was much younger I didn't see or feel this so acutely but with more experience under my belt I do and it's one of the reasons why I created Women in Photography NZ & AU which I now work on with fellow artists Caroline McQuarrie and Christine McFetridge, as I wanted to address gender inequity in the arts and create a virtual space where female, non binary and female identifying photo based artists could share their work and discuss what was important to them.

Are there barriers you have faced as a female artist that you think you wouldn't have otherwise as a male artist?

Most definitely, particularly when I ventured into parenthood and when I became a single parent but I have to say that those barriers haven't always been made by men unfortunately. I believe that when women work together not against one another great things can and will happen.

Where do you see important contributions to conversations around gender being made?

In 2016 Jill Solway delivered a masterclass at the Toronto film festival titled 'the female gaze' Soloway explains:

"The female gaze is more than a camera or a shooting style, it is that empathy generator that says: I was there in that room. The female gaze says I was there, and this is my shame, and this is my life, this is my humor, I'll take all of it and put it into my protagonist, with music, with light, and we will all side with HER."

Though Soloway's ideas are based around experiences of the film industry, they resonate strongly with how female/non binary and female identifying photographers are working today.

The series by Sama Alshaibi 'Carry Over' is a brilliant example of a female photographer reappropriating the gaze, recalling and subverting how women in the Middle East were portrayed by Western Male photographers (read here)

Outside of the arts I am a huge fan of the how our prime minister here in New Zealand Jacinda Arden demonstrates time and again that empathy and strength can and should coexist and that these qualities create an amazing foundation to lead a country from.

Do you celebrate international women´s day in any special way?

I love being a woman and it is cause to celebrate and International Women's day is a great way to remind us all that we need to be aware of the barriers that stand in our way and to make sure we support and stand up for one another and lead by example.



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