University hosts portrait exhibition celebrating 100 years of trailblazing women

Thursday 10 November 2022
First woman to row solo across the Indian Ocean, Sarah Outen

A world champion beatboxer, the first woman to row solo across the Indian Ocean, and the First Minister of Scotland are among 55 female firsts whose portraits will be coming to the University of St Andrews this winter.

First Women UK features portraits by acclaimed photographer Anita Corbin and celebrates Britain’s modern female pioneers, those who achieved a first in their field of achievement. The series covers a wide range of disciplines, including sport, literature, music, the arts, science, politics, faith, and the military.

Created over the course of a decade, it was first exhibited in 2018 to celebrate 100 years since the vote was first extended to women; this will be the first time the series has been displayed in Scotland.

The series has close links to Scotland, featuring First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Argyll-born Moira Cameron, the first woman to become a Beefeater at the Tower of London. It also has a special reason for coming to St Andrews as it features former Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University, Professor Dame Louise Richardson, as the first woman to hold that role, as well as honorary graduates including Betty Boothroyd, the first woman to become Speaker of the House of Commons, and Professor Dame Sally Davies, the first female Chief Medical Officer for England.

Principal and Vice-Chancellor Professor Dame Sally Mapstone FRSE said: “The First Women UK collection provides a wonderful insight into the achievements of women over the last 100 years and celebrates those who have taken the lead so that others can follow.

“It is a pleasure to have the portraits at the University of St Andrews where they will provide inspiration for our staff and students, encouraging the next generation to consider how they can make an impact and contribute to a more equitable society.”

Anita Corbin became known in the 1980s with her Visible Girls series, featuring portraits of young women in a variety of subcultures. She went on to become a highly regarded reportage photographer for publications such as The Times, The Observer and Elle Magazine. Her focus has always been on women.

Anita said: “It is with great anticipation that I bring First Women UK to the University of St Andrews. There are a good number of ‘Firsts’ with Scottish connections, and it will be the first time the exhibition has been seen north of the border and the ninth stop on its UK tour.

“It is particularly exciting to bring my First Women portrait of Professor Dame Louise Richardson back ‘home’. When I made this portrait in St Andrews in 2015, I also received my first booking to display the exhibition, and this vote of confidence gave the project a huge boost.

“It is my hope that the First Women portraits will inspire students and visitors to dream big and be the best they can be.”

First woman to win the World Beatboxing Championships, Bellatrix

The exhibition will be accompanied by a variety of events, including panel discussions around the role of failure on the road to success, photography workshops, and a performance by Bellatrix, the first woman to win the World Beatboxing Championships.

First Women UK will be displayed at the Wardlaw Museum and the Laidlaw Music Centre, St Andrews, from Sunday 13 November 2022 to Sunday 8 January 2023. Entry is free. Opening hours and full details of the programme can be found on the Museums website.

Issued by the University of St Andrews Communications Office.

Category Public interest stories

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