UK Exhibition Celebrates Beauty Of Ageing Females

News author: WUNRN
Source of news: Salisbury Arts Centre
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2010-06-17 09:44:24 / News read 1463 reading

‘Age cannot wither her nor custom stale her infinite variety’

(Antony and Cleopatra, Act 2, Scene 2)




Actress Harriet Walter’s greatly anticipated photographic exhibition  Infinite Variety, will receive its London debut at the National’s Olivier Theatre from 1 July to 15 August, following very enthusiastic receptions in previous venues such as the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon, Capital Centre for the Arts at Warwick University, the Cheltenham Literary Festival and most recently the Salisbury Arts Centre. 


In celebration of the opening of Infinite Variety, Ms. Walter will be joined by Joan Bakewell on 2 July at the Cottesloe Theatre for a discussion on the issues surrounding age as reflected in the exhibition.


The exhibition of photographs, which Ms. Walter began to curate in 2006, celebrates the maturation of women from their mid-40’s to their 90’s.  “I wanted to create an exhibition of photographs of beautiful older women as in our image-obsessed society, few things have more power to alter our perceptions than photographs". 


Pictures in magazines relentlessly reinforce impossibly idealised images of women, causing many to diet or have face lifts, often to the detriment of their health, happiness and self-esteem.  By quietly looking at images of older women, we can learn to see the beauty in character, humour, wisdom, endurance and other inner qualities which shine through the inevitably maturing skin.  Then perhaps we can start to love the lines and pouches as being a natural part of us and be proud of the life that has left these etchings on us.”


The exhibition features over 50 photographs of women commissioned by a variety of photographers, some generously lent and with a few of the photographs taken by Ms. Walter herself. They include subjects ranging from from Dame Maggie Smith, Judi Dench and Mary Quant, through to women from all walks of life and in various professions.


Ms. Walter hopes that through her exhibition, older women will feel more positive about their own ageing, younger women will find a different kind of aspiration for their future and men and others in general will reappraise their notions of beauty and really see older women with a new interest and respect.


The title of the exhibition was inspired by Ms. Walter’s 2006 performance as Cleopatra in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s production of Anthony and Cleopatra – “Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale her infinite variety.”  One of theatre’s most respected stage actresses, Ms. Walter is also known for her roles in films such as Sense and Sensibility, Atonement and The Young Victoria and most recently in the popular ITV television drama Law and Order: UK.  She is currently appearing on stage at the National’s Olivier Theatre in director Marianne Elliott’s production of Thomas Middleton’s Women Beware Women.


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