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Ponch Hawkes—500 Strong

A black and white photograph of a naked woman with pale skin shown from behind wearing a headscarf around her head. Her right arm is up with her pointing finger pointing upwards. In her left hand she is holding up a wooden paint palette. Her left leg is straight and her right knee is cocked inward. She is standing in an empty darkened room.

Ponch Hawkes—500 Strong

19 Mar 2022 - 3 Jul 2022

The world is awash with images of naked youthfulness, mainly young women. A naked older woman is an extremely rare subject and hardly ever portrayed with any sense of desirability.

In 2018 renowned photographer Ponch Hawkes embarked on a project to photograph 500 Victorian women. Calling on women from across the State over the age of 50 from all backgrounds, 432 women, including numerous from Geelong, volunteered to be photographed in the nude to celebrate the diversity and reality of older women’s bodies. Photoshoots were organised in Melbourne, Shepparton and Geelong Gallery. 500 Strong is full of images of older women acting as though they have every right to be seen, ripping their clothes off, stepping out of public invisibility. Participants were encouraged to consider their anonymity and, if they wished, come prepared with a personalised face covering. Some women chose to show their faces.

This epic work by Ponch Hawkes and curated by Jane Scott is a game changer. The body of work is both irreverent and playful. 500 Strong was an engaging and empowering outreach project that premiered in the 2021 exhibition Flesh After Fifty: Changing Images of Older Women in Art.

Image: Ponch Hawkes, 500 Strong (i) 2019-2020 (detail), Digital print on cotton rag paper. Courtesy of the artist. Copyright Ponch Hawkes

Gallery Details

Geelong Gallery
55 Little Malop Street
Geelong VIC 3220
T: 03 5229 3645
W: geelonggallery.org.au

Opening Hours
Open daily: 10am - 5pm
Closed Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year’s Day and Good Friday. 

Entry is free but admission fees may apply for some exhibitions.

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Gallery Info

The Public Galleries Association of Victoria (PGAV) acknowledges the Wurundjeri Woi-Wurrung people of the Kulin Nation as the Traditional Owners of the lands where our office is located, and all Traditional Owners of country throughout Victoria and Australia. We recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples enduring traditions and continuing creative cultures. We pay our respect to Elders past, present and emerging.