In partnership with Chanel, the National Portrait Gallery has launched Reframing Narratives: Women in Portraiture, a new three year project, which aims to enhance the representation of women in the Gallery’s Collection and highlight the often overlooked stories of individual women who have shaped British history and culture. The project is part of the new Chanel Culture Fund, a global programme of unique initiatives and partnerships that will support innovators across the arts in advancing new ideas and greater representation in culture and society.
The project will increase the proportion of women artists and sitters on display at the Gallery in London when it re-opens in 2023, following a major transformation, which includes a complete re-presentation of the entire Collection and a significant refurbishment of the building.
Reframing Narratives: Women in Portraiture will challenge traditional notions of women’s careers and how we think about women in relation to their male counterparts. Research will also explore the cultural, institutional, social, and political factors that shape difference, including class, race, gender and sexuality.
The role of women photographers in both documenting history and encouraging other women to enter the profession will be explored further, spotlighting Edwardian photographers such as Alice Hughes, who only photographed women and children, and at the peak of her career employed up to sixty female assistants.
Women’s contribution to the war effort of both world wars is also a topic of research and includes Georgina Masson, the first black woman Officer in the Auxiliary Territorial Service, Noor Inayat Khan, Special Operations Officer, and Lady Sarah Wilson, the first female war correspondent.
Women from other fields of endeavour include actor Anna May Wong, writer Radclyffe Hall, and pioneering film editor and scriptwriter Alma Reville who, until now, has been overshadowed by her husband Alfred Hitchcock.
To mark Women’s History Month and celebrate pioneering women of today, the Gallery is releasing a series of filmed interviews with inspirational women throughout March as part of Reframing Narratives: Women in Portraiture. These women include lead scientist on the Oxford AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine Sarah Gilbert; founder of the MOBO Awards Kanya King; actor Helena Bonham Carter; former Principal of The Royal Ballet Zenaida Yanowsky, and period poverty campaigner Amika George. The films will be available on the Gallery’s website and social media channels.