Chrissy Irvine
In Situ Photo Project 13th May – 1st July 2016

123 years ago, New Zealand women became the first in the world to win the right to vote. This landmark achievement was made possible by the tireless lobbying of women who believed their voices needed to be heard.

Today, women continue to push the boundaries set by gendered stereotypes. We live in communities with a variety of local role models for our young women, from engineers and firefighters, to nurses and mothers. New Zealand women are unique. They all have stories to tell and they are all worth telling.

Chrissy Irvine’s goal is to do just that. Using the feminist term ‘herstory’ to name the project, she has created a body of work that consists of documentary photographs and oral histories of 18 New Zealand women; they talk about their work, family, lifestyle, and ideas of success. Herstory is predominantly shared online and aims to provide alternative careers advice for women who are re/entering the workforce. The stories also act as an archive of women’s voices.

“One of the tasks of photography is to disclose, and shape our sense of, the variety of the world. It is not to present ideals. There is no agenda except diversity and interestingness. We want now to know that for every this there is a that. We want to have a plurality of models.

A woman may be a cop or a beauty queen or an architect or a housewife or a physicist. Diversity is an end in itself. There is the very modern faith in the possibility of continuous self-transformation. A life, after all, is commonly referred to as a lifestyle. Styles change.This celebration of variety, of individuality, of individuality as style, saps the authority of gender stereotypes, and has become an inexorable counterforce to the bigotry that still denies women more than token access to many occupations and experiences.” – Susan Sontag on Annie Leibovitz’s Women

Chrissy Irvine has been running documentary photography and interviewing workshops with young mothers from Karanga Mai Young Parents College in Kaiapoi. On June the 17th, the students’ work will be displayed at In Situ Photo Project. Each student has interviewed and photographed a woman in a job they themselves would like to pursue. The women chosen to be interviewed were also teenage/young mothers. By linking these women together, the students will start to see how they can create their own paths. It is also a chance for the interviewees to mentor young women who are in the same position they were once in. These stories will be added to the Herstory website to inspire other teenage parents. This exhibition has been kindly sponsored by the Creative Communities Christchurch Scheme.