BEHIND THE LENS: Gympie photographic artist Charmaine Lyons has started a self-acceptance project called Women United, where she aims to photograph 200 women from all walks of life.
BEHIND THE LENS: Gympie photographic artist Charmaine Lyons has started a self-acceptance project called Women United, where she aims to photograph 200 women from all walks of life. Renee Albrecht

Artwork to unite women

AS WITH all artistic endeavours, Women United started with an idea.

"It starts with an idea, then I get a sense of urgency and then I just have to do it. I'm an artist,” said Charmaine Lyons, the photographic artist who came up with the concept.

The Women United Photographic Project is an exercise in self-acceptance; for creating solidarity and uniting women to continue to assert their rights.

After the inauguration of Donald Trump, the women's marches following it and President Trump's subsequent signing of the bill to withhold Federal money to planned parenthood clinics in April, Charmaine found herself feeling women's rights had taken a blow at the hands of the US President.

"I felt like he was deciding what women can and can't do with their own bodies. Women should be allowed to take care of their own health and decide for themselves,” the single mum of two said.

And so, the project was born, and she has started photographing 200 women for an exhibition she is planning for sometime in the future.

Charmaine said she wants to learn about the stories these women have and says so far she has 44 women who have agreed to become part of the project, from all walks of life.

"I've got housewives and mothers, cancer patients, women with doctorates, carpenters, school teachers, old and young. Women are flocking to be part of it.”

Charmaine says she knows a lot of the women who have agreed to be involved, but loves meeting new women keen to become part of it.

She has had women register from across the state, from Mackay, Roma, and Toowoomba and everywhere in between, and even international visitors, photographing one women from Dublin and another from eastern Europe.

"It's a real drive every time I get to photograph the next woman and meeting new women.

"It doesn't matter who you are or what you do. Being a woman is enough. I've photographed extra-ordinary women and ordinary women who are extra-ordinary,” she said.

"Most women want to have their hair and make-up done for a photo but I want to capture them raw, without their hair and make-up.”

She said she's planning to do the project in her spare time around her full-time career, and in black and white because of the high contrast.

"It peels away everything, leaving the bare bones. Ideally, I would have loved to do it on black and white film because I would enjoy being part of the creative process from beginning to end,” she said.

But she's still happy to be taking the picutres on her second-hand digital Canon, which is her pride and joy, preferring photography to other artist endeavours she has done in the past, including acrylic painting and pottery.

"I love the instancy of the camera. I'm impatient when it comes to art,” she laughed.

Charmaine described the project as a work in progress and is excited to see where she will end up when it's completed.

"Like all art it evolves,” she said. "It keeps growing.”

You can see some of Charmaine's photographic artworks on display at Soma Soma cafe on Mellor St, Gympie.

If you would like to be involved in the Women United Photographic Project, you can register on Charmaine's Facebook page at facebook.com/200WOMEN UNITEDPHOTOGRAPHIC PROJECT.

Gympie Times


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