Under Lisa Wilkinson’s Influence

Lisa Wilkinson is best known as co-host of Channel Nine’s Today Show and former editor of Cleo magazine, but is virtually unknown as a photographer. She recently had the good fortune to pair up with Canon who gave her carte blanche to chose subject matter, style and the time to shoot and present a photographic exhibition that would tour Australia as a Canon promotion. They even gave her master portrait photographer, Daniel Linnet as a mentor.

Wilkinson chose to shoot 10 Australian women of influence, all from diverse backgrounds, all in black and white, and all women wearing white.

“I didn’t realise I had this in my head but I saw black and white, and I think all women look great in white. There’s something ethereal about wearing white,” said Lisa.

While the idea may have been to make the women look physically beautiful, it could be argued that women with inherent drive, ambition, intelligence and/or money such as Gretel Packer, Marie Bashir, Susan Carland, Mia Freedman, Turia Pitt or Deborah Lee Furness, are presented as unrelatable to women in less fortunate situations when appearing in ‘ethereal’ white. Wilkinson talks about their individual stories and how all women could find inspiration from the 10 women.

“Look at someone like Kate McGregor. She suffered incredible bullying as a result of her need to change gender. They’re all women who’ve taken what they’ve got and done great things. It’s about taking your situation and making it the best possible situation. It depends on the individual looking at the photos as to what they get out of it, and I hope having such a diverse range of subjects that if women can get inspiration from at least one, that’s great.”

The background props are also in different shades of white and grey, representing symbolism pertaining to each of the women’s backgrounds. For example, Evonne Goolagong Cawley stands between two suspended white balls representing tennis balls. Peta Credlin stands between two ladders representing her difficulty climbing her career ladder having come from a less advantaged background. Asher Keddie looks as if she is rising from the ashes of an opaque floor, Gretel Packer, who has never given a public interview, coming out from behind a curtain.

Wilkinson hopes to sell the photographs as a collection to a corporate entity. It almost seems a shame to lock the photos away in an ivory tower full of white middle-aged men. However, having large photos of inspirational women installed in a traditionally male bastion is probably a good thing.

Women of Influence is showing at Maud Gallery, 6 Maud St, Newstead until December 22nd.

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