Visible Girls: Revisited by Anita Corbin in Norwich.


Thirty-odd years ago, when photographer Anita Corbin was in her early 20s, she embarked on a project to “ensure that a generation of young women were represented in a photographic genre that was almost entirely dominated by men”.

Hitting London clubs, youth groups or following tips from friends and acquaintances she went in search of young women from different subcultural tribes. She captured mods, rockabillies, punks, skinheads, rastas, young lesbians –  “young women everywhere were defying the mainstream, flying the flag of their individuality in clearly defined tribes characterised by music, fashion, geography and sexual orientation”.

Her landmark Visible Girls exhibition, featuring photos of 56 young women, toured the country in the 1980s with great success. Since then, Anita has continued her work as a photographer and has been featured in a range of publications including The Sunday Times and The Observer magazines, Time Out, ELLE and New Society. The National Portrait Gallery has also purchased 20 of her photographs for its archive.

The photos of the Visible Girls have always been around, even used as a teaching resource, but in the summer of 2014 an online article brought them back into the spotlight. It was then the women in the pictures began getting in touch with Anita, updating her on their lives since the photos were taken.

With the support of Arts Council England, she has been re-photographing as many of the women as she can find (and who are still willing) which has led to the Visible Girls: Revisited exhibition, currently at Norwich Arts Centre. It features the original works alongside the new photographs.


My running buddy and I went along last Saturday (pre-snow) and were lucky enough to hear Anita give a talk.

I know I would have enjoyed looking at the photos anyway but having her there was brilliant. I would have loved to have interviewed her in my newspaper days. She’s so passionate about the project, even after all these years, and it was really inspiring to hear the stories of how she came to take them (many of them were in the cramped toilets of the venues where the light was a little better) but also learn a bit about what was going on at the time from a cultural point of view. And then, of course, it was wonderful to hear how the women have changed in all those years and what it was like photographing them (on a digital camera rather than film) again.

It also made us think about our own tribes. I can’t say I really identified as anything specific, I went through a very minor goth phase, which mostly meant wearing a lot of black and my much loved DMs. I don’t think I would have stood out in a crowd though.


Another interesting part of the project is that Anita spent three days on the streets of Norwich looking for the Visible Girls of today. As the mum of a girl I’m especially interested in subcultures of today’s young women. I really want to take Freya to see the exhibition (she actually cried that she couldn’t come on the Saturday but she’s not one for sitting still or being quiet so I thought it best to let her have some fun with Mark instead) but the snow has got in the way so far.


If you fancy a look, the exhibition will be at the arts centre until March 14th. Please check the website for opening details. You can learn more about the current tour here and there’s a fab feature in The Guardian that’s worth a read if you want to find out more about the women now.

Did you/have you found your tribe? If Anita was photographing you back then (or now) what tribe would you have identified with?





A Mother And Daughter Afternoon At The NUA Degree Shows.

FullSizeRender 6
By Tina Hannay.

And then it just stopped. The constant arguing, the blistering anger that would ignite over the most unlikely things, the need to control every. single. thing; like a summer storm it blew over almost as swiftly as it arrived.

Well, maybe not entirely. Freya is still three, after all – and has a very definite opinion about when it’s appropriate to wear sandals (pretty much any day it’s raining).

Thankfully, while she remains feisty and opinionated, it mostly seems more measured (for now).

It’s better.

Definitely easier.

I can (sort of) understand where she’s coming from and wade through it rather than just (mentally) throwing my hands up, at a loss as to know how to help her but holding on for dear life anyway.

I’d go as far as to say that nearly four is my favourite age so far.


FullSizeRender 4

Last week I wanted to visit the Norwich University of the Arts (NUA) degree shows and, as the only day I could do it was Friday, I decided to take Freya, as I thought she might like it too.


By Rebecca Goddard and Emily Willgress.

After lunch we hopped on a bus into the city and strolled down to the campus where we toured the various buildings looking at the work of some of this year’s 600 graduates.

IMG_2531 2.jpg
By Sean Hancock.


Works on display include “paintings and illustrations, fashion garments and textile patterns, architectural drawings and models, sculptures, photographs, short films and animations, portfolios of graphic design work and video game demos”.

I’ve listed links for all the work I’ve featured at the end, where I could find them, but there were so many I didn’t get chance to take photos of but were equally brilliant (and many more I didn’t get to see at all) so really you need to go and look for yourself, if possible.

By Nancy Peart

Getting Freya’s take on things was entertaining (she was really engaged and inspired to create her own painting as soon as we got home). There were tiny brains, an animal skull which she was fascinated by and a work that included sand which she found particularly hard not to touch.

She thought the photo on the left (below) was the Northern Lights.

FullSizeRender 7
By Faryal Waiz.

I also found it really inspiring – there are definitely some stars of the future just waiting to be discovered.

I was buzzing afterwards (as I treated Freya to a tub of Norfolk strawberry ice-cream in a nearby cafe) – and not just because I had given my brain what felt like an intense workout for the first time in ages but also because we both seemed to enjoy it as much as the other. So often we either do something for the pleasure of one (softplay) or the other (hunting for butterflies) or neither of us (supermarket shopping). I hope we can find more things we enjoy together.

This photo by Victoria Brooks is one of my favourites, I just found it arresting. Then there was an illustrated book by Lauren Phillips I was very taken with.

By Victoria Brooks.

Freya really liked the textiles, including these models by Danielle Taylor but also the video games (particularly as she got to wear headphones and play with a controller).

FullSizeRender 3

The degree shows are free to visit but you only have today and tomorrow left so get in quick! Please check the website for opening times. There’s also a shop, Unexpected Item In The Bagging Area, full of beautiful things to buy.

To find out more about the work I featured please click on the links below.

Tina Hannay

Emily Willgress

Victoria Brooks

Nancy Peart

Lauren Phillips

Sean Hancock

Rebecca Goddard

Things To Do In Norfolk – Small Stories Exhibition.


One of my happiest memories starts with entering the living room early on Christmas Day, when I was about six or seven, to find a present so large it had to be wrapped in a sheet.

When I pulled it off, with much fanfare, I discovered my dad had converted a bookcase into a fully furnished dolls’ house to rival any Barbie Dreamhouse, which was the must have toy of that year.

While he had been busy constructing this secret project in his shed, my mum had also been hard at work making a shoebox full of tiny new cloths for my dolls.

Best. Christmas. Ever.

It still makes me smile to think about it – and I’m sure nostalgia was part of the reason I was so excited about visiting the Small Stories: At Home In A Dolls’ House exhibition at Norwich Castle.

In a fun twist, the tales behind 12 of the V&A Museum of Childhood’s most treasured dolls’ houses are told by their tiny inhabitants.

Using audio and light, the houses come to life as we “journey through 300 years of the history of the home and listen to takes of marriages and parties, politics and crime”.

The chance to peek inside these beautiful treasures, from a country mansion to a high-rise apartment (as we live in a flat, I loved this one), is such a treat – as is learning more about how dolls’ houses came to be. One visit won’t be enough for me.

There was even some unexpected kitchen envy.


Aimed at all the family, there are chances to shrink to doll size, dress up, and experience daily life in the 1840s and 1960s in room recreations.

The finale is Dream House 2017, featuring “magical, miniature rooms” specially created by Norfolk architects, artists, makers, students, and school groups.

* The exhibition at Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery runs until June 25th. For more info about opening times and ticket prices please click here.