The Loud and Luminous project celebrates and recognises the important and diverse contributions of contemporary women photographers and female identifying artists in Australia. It is designed to empower girls and women to pursue creative careers and it is strongly focused on gender equality in the arts. The project is unique and important in recognising the extensive cultural contribution women photographic artists and photographers have made in this country. It encourages women to tell their stories to contribute to Australia’s cultural identity. It acknowledges the importance of all stories.
While this is an Australian initiative, it has the potential to extend internationally in its message and appeal on gender equality and empowerment. It is designed to be a celebration of the important contributions the stories female artists bring to Australian culture. It is also about the ongoing battle for women to be heard—and recognised—in a traditionally male dominated industry. If the general public were asked to list influential and iconic Australian photographers from the last 100 years, it would include very few female photographers. Loud and Luminous aims to reverse this. At its core, the Loud and Luminous project is all about gender equality in the photographic arts industry.
Overwhelmingly men have written history, men have made art, galleries have collected art made by men, and until recently photographers were mostly male. The digital revolution has enabled many more people to create imagery. More women now graduate from vocational courses and art school than their male counterparts, and yet are still less likely to be represented.
The project is the brainchild of acclaimed professional photographers, Hilary Wardhaugh and Melissa Anderson. The women, who have a combined experience of 50 years working in the photographic industry, firmly believe women we need to work together to change the future and to ensure ‘all of our stories are being told’.
Loud and Luminous is designed to bring female artists together for an inclusive discussion that celebrates diversity and promotes cultural change. Some of the stories told address important social issues, and often ‘silent stories’ that many women aren’t shared or told.
The idea for the project came about on a road trip in regional Victoria in late 2017. It started as a conversation between two of Australia’s leading female photographers, Hilary Wardhaugh and Melissa Anderson, about the frustrations many women face working in the arts. The pair decided to set something up that was positive, and brought women together for a collective cause. The idea quickly evolved in to an event in Melbourne with 56 emerging, mid-career and influential Australian women photographic artists by photographing a universal women's symbol in their finished work for International Women’s Day 2018.
In 2019, the project doubled in size with the 2019 exhibition including 100 contributors—and many more supporters. More than 130 photographers attended a sold out conference on International Women’s Day at Australian National University School of the Arts, in Canberra. A multimedia presentation of the 100 exhibiting images, released at the conference, was viewed over 20,000 times within the week and shared internationally.
In 2020 the conference again was held in Canberra and although the exhibition has not been displayed because of Covid19, the 2020 book has been published and now all three volumes have now been acquired by the National Library of Australia.