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First Women comprises a unique collection of 100 portraits capturing women in the UK who were “first” in their field of achievement. The portraits by photographer Anita Corbin provide inspiration and insight for a new generation of women seeking an understanding of their own roles in a rapidly changing world in which equality is still an issue. Celebrating 100 years of inspiring women.

Inspiration comes from the most unexpected places, and this Saturday we found ourselves surrounded by an abundance of incredible women. As we made our way around the coffee shops and flower stalls of Battersea village, we found ourselves drawn to the crisp white walls and stand-out portraits of the Dyson Gallery.

"The First Women Project is important because women need strong platforms and opportunities to share and empower each other."

Beth French, the First Woman to swim 26 miles from Cornwall to the Isles of Scilly

The walls are laden with an incredible collection of iconic portraits of 21st century women who have achieved the landmark title “First Woman” across a range of fields. The images command respect and attention, much like the incredible women they feature. The portraits are an exploration of the relationship between the photographer and the sitter as well as the relationship the woman has with the environment or background in which she is photographed. Each has been carefully chosen by Anita and her subject to reflect the field of achievement in which the woman has excelled.

First Women, The Collection, is about women’s achievements, and one woman’s exploration through the camera lens.

How will women be remembered over the past 100 years? What have they achieved in the fields of Sport, Science, Politics, the Arts and Education? And who were these remarkable “first” women, what did they look like?

First Women is the project that Anita has waited all her life to create. Her passion was born out of work she began in the early eighties – her Visible Girls portfolio was symbolic of women’s new found freedom to be whoever they wanted to be – and fired by years spent working as a top female photographer for The Sunday Times and The Observer when she was often sent to cover “human interest” stories involving women. All this experience has culminated in Anita’s vision – the creation of a legacy for future generations of women to enable them to understand and appreciate the achievements of their forebears – and perhaps even to laugh incredulously that once upon a time women were regarded as second class citizens without a vote.

Like us here at LWL, Anita too believes in the importance of creating visible role models to encourage us to aspire to a life in positions and professions in fields we may have otherwise left unexplored.

The exhibition of the full 100 portraits shows at the Dyson Gallery, Royal College of Art, Riverside, 1 Hester Road London SW11 4AN 20th July until 22nd August. Everyday of the week 12-5pm. Free Entry. Please also click here to find out more about the First Women Event on 14th August from 6.00 pm - 8.30 pm for a private viewing of the collection and an evening of conversation with five women who are all trailblazers in their field. First Women curator Kathleen Soriano will be talking with a Beefeater, a Serjeant at Arms of the House of Commons, an Adventurer, a Goldsmith and the CEO of a prestigious financial institution. Places are limited, so book now for this unique opportunity to meet these extraordinary women face-to-face!

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