In 2019, after experiencing a difficult menopause myself and feeling isolated and confused, I set out around the UK to meet, interview and photograph other women who were also going through it. This culminated in a small exhibition at a night called Bad Fruit, in Chats Palace, Hackney in East London.
Viewers described the exhibition as:
- "The invisible made visible. As a menopausal woman viewer it brought great pleasure to have a sense of community, simply to stand in the presence of ‘women of a certain age’, photographed as they are. Not forgetting the joy of nosiness and comparison of experience. Against a background of cultural disappearance of middle aged women Catrin has begun to catalogue the loss / advertise the presence.”Billy Chan.
- “This exhibition reveals the diversity of experience of menopause, and also celebrates the lived experience of a wide range of women. It is very uplifting, and also empowering to share an open conversation about a topic which, historically, has been associated with shame and secrecy. Together we are stronger."Maria Gandy
2019 Exhibition - Image & Text
The images were framed in pairs and hung along with extracts of text from the interviews. The installation allowed spot-lighting of the portraits to create a highly focused effect, drawing the audience to engage with each woman's unique story as well as the exhibition s a whole.
The project - next steps
I am now applying for Arts Council funding to continue travelling to various UK locations, where I have confirmed venues for the future exhibition. In each location I will meet and interview a diverse range of menopausal women, taking two portraits of each. I will then return the following year to show the photographs, and excerpts of the interviews, at arts venues in each community area. The touring exhibition will involve an opening night at each venue, including performances by women featured in the exhibition.
Impact and outcomes
After speaking to women about the menopause I have noticed there is a general lack of information and understanding about it, even though every woman will go through it. Women often feel isolated and that they cannot talk about their experiences, as this transition has traditionally been associated with feelings of shame at being 'washed up' and 'past it.'
The exhibition will create a platform in each local community, to celebrate women who have traditionally been made invisible by society. It will look at their individual and unique journeys and stories through the menopause and share this with the wider public, so that this transition is demystified and better understood. The project will bring together networks of local women experiencing menopause, so that they feel a sense of belonging to something bigger in their community and can continue to share experiences and support each other after the exhibition.
I want to illuminate spaces with vibrant art works which lessen the stigma around menopause, encourage women to talk and share experiences, enable society to better understand menopause and to celebrate women who have been traditionally been unheard and invisible.
Your donation will add to the Arts Council grant I am applying for and will be used in the following ways:
- Enable me to travel to various areas to meet, interview and photograph women
- Pay for my accommodation while in those areas meeting, interviewing and photographing women.
- Pay to print high quality photos and enable them to be framed by an expert.
- Pay to hire venues to exhibit the portraits and interviews in.
- Pay performers to perform at the opening events.
- This will allow the exhibition to be free so that everyone can attend.
Some pictures from the 2019 exhibition
Various rewards are on offer as a thanks for larger donations - please see the Rewards section and sample images below.