9 February 2022

Photographer turns her focus on the beauty of older women

| Sally Hopman
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Woman in veil

Veil, a photograph by Yasmin Idriss, which features in her new exhibition at Queanbeyan’s Rusten House. Photo: Yasmin Idriss.

The beauty that is a woman over 40 has been captured by Canberra-based artist Yasmin Idriss in a new exhibition at Queanbeyan’s Rusten House Art Centre.

The 40 Project is the culmination of a two-year study by the artist, using her skills as a photographer to capture who women really are, how they feel at this time in their lives, and what the journey has been like.

Calling out to women in 2020 inviting them to be part of the project, Idriss said: “Now I am in my late 40s, approaching 50 at a pace that unnerves me, and I realise that I am, and have always been, surrounded by amazing women in my life … that are proof we are never too old to reinvent ourselves and chase our dreams.

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“We are also never too old to be loved, pampered, photographed, admired and adored.

“With all that in mind, I have kick-started my new career as an artist and photographer and established a portrait photography business. And yes, I will include myself in the project.”

Idriss said media and fashion magazines told us that women over 40 cannot be supermodels.

“But I know we can be gorgeous, inside and out. We are lovers and wives, mums, sisters and daughters. We are professionals, entrepreneurs, teachers, mentors and students. We are friends and bffs, confidantes and counsellors.”

40+ Project exhibition

Canberra-based artist Yasmin Idriss’s new exhibition, The 40+ Project, opens at Queanbeyan’s Rusten House on 3 February. Photo: Supplied.

Idriss said the women she knew were strong “even when we didn’t feel it”.

“And we shine when we work together. Kindness and confidence are so alluring, and I want to photograph that spark in every single woman I meet through this process.”

Idriss said, although similar projects had been done before, every one would be different because of the individual people involved.

“Each one has its own blueprint of faces, personalities and life experiences,” she said. “I feel there can never be too many projects that celebrate the beauty and strength of the mature woman.”

Women involved in the project were invited to present a number of different looks for the photo shoot: from a natural look with minimum makeup, to a more glamorous look and also a fine art shot where they were invited to wear a costume or prop of their choice.

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The participants were also invited to submit a piece of writing to accompany the photographs.

“I asked them to give me a small piece of writing to sit alongside the image, which could be in the form of a personal motto, advice to your younger self, lessons learned at 40 plus or a short life story or poem,” she said.

The exhibition developed from Idriss’s idea to create a photobook called 40 Something. As the project progressed, she realised she wanted the premise to broaden so she could also capture women over 50. There has also been interest in creating a similar project for men over 40, which the artist is also investigating.

Idriss also has a second exhibition on in the Queanbeyan space called Liquid Light. She describes it as a natural study of the world around us, playing with the lines between painting and photography. Using a photo sensitive liquid emulsion, she experiments with natural imagery on different paper surfaces. The exhibition is made up of some of her favourite works using this technique in the darkroom.

Idriss completed her Bachelor of Visual Arts with Honours in Photomedia in 2017 at the Australian National University.

The 40+ Project and Liquid Light is open Wednesday to Saturday, 10 am to 4 pm, at the Rusten House Art Centre, and runs until 26 February.

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