Ponch Hawkes: 500 Strong

17 September - 27 November 2022
Shepparton Art Museum
In 2018, renowned Australian photographer Ponch Hawkes (b. 1946, Abbotsford; lives and works in Naarm/Melbourne) embarked on an epic project to photograph 500 Victorian women over the age of 50. Calling on women from across the state from all backgrounds, 432 volunteered to be photographed in the nude to celebrate the diversity and reality of older women’s bodies.

Photoshoots were organised in Melbourne at Hawkes’ studio and at both Shepparton Art Museum and Geelong Gallery. Participants were able to show their faces or could consider anonymity and, if they wished, come prepared with a personalised face covering.

The resulting series confronts the conventions of female behaviour and representation in art and society and was a major feature of Flesh After Fifty: Changing Images of Older Women in Art, curated by Jane Scott and presented at Abbotsford Convent in March 2021.

Hawkes took up photography in the 1970s while working as a journalist for Rolling Stone and The Digger magazines. Today she pairs a documentary approach with a feminist perspective to create works that engage in critical debate and comment on Australian society and cultural life. Her work is held in major public museum collections, including the National Gallery of Victoria, National Gallery of Australia, State Library of Victoria and many private collections.

500 Strong was originally presented as part of Flesh after Fifty, curated by Jane Scott.

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©2024 Caroline Esbenshade





I acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the country on which I live and work and their connections to the land. I pay my respects to Elders past and present and extend that respect to all Indigenous peoples today.