Getting to know the Lisa Wilkinson behind the camera

We all know Lisa Wilkinson as co-host of the Today show on Channel 9, but now we are about to see her work as she steps behind the camera. In her first photographic exhibition, Wilkinson celebrates Australian women with 10 powerful portraits of those who have both inspired her and influenced modern Australia. The series includes Asher Keddie, Deborah-Lee Furness, Dame Marie Bashir, Peta Credlin, Turia Pitt, Evonne Goolagong Cawley, Cate McGregor, Gretel Packer, Mia Freedman and Dr Susan Carland. It’s been an intense three months but the exhibition is finally open.

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You’re known for being in front of the camera more so, but now you’re behind it? Which out of the two do you prefer?
I love and feel and feel incredibly blessed to have the luxury of doing them both.

What does photography mean to you, now that you’ve decided to take the next step into a new venture?
It’s one of those things, I’ve always been curious about and enjoyed doing it, and to get the opportunity to do it on a large scale, in a studio, with incredible subjects, people who trusted me, and incredible sets, and brilliant photographic equipment; it’s like a dream come true.

What is the message behind this series of work?
Well these are women who inspire me and the message I suppose is how great Aussie women are.

Did you think about including yourself and perhaps doing a self portrait in the series?
No. I do enough selfies when I’m outside broadcast [laughs]. This was about other women, not me.

Do you think you’ll do a series on the men that inspire you in this industry and in your life?
At this stage I’d be happy to wait and see what people think of the series but there are a few whispers about doing more and I’d love to widen the categories out and do all sorts of subjects, so that is far from an impossibility.

Do you have any other series you’re currently working on or conceptualising, or did you want to just get this one out of the way first and see the response.
Yeah, I can’t believe I’m about to open my first exhibition. My only thoughts are having my fingers crossed and hoping that people like what they see.

Photo: Lisa Wilkinson
Photo: Lisa Wilkinson

These women who inspire you, do they represent elements of society or is it purely from an inspiration background?
The common denominator is that they inspire me and I hope that between the 10 of them you get a mix of styles, personalities, experience, ages, cultural background, religions and together they paint a picture of Australian women.

What is the significance of exploring this side of yourself?  Did it come to a time where you felt like you needed a new challenge?
I’ve always looked for new challenges my entire career. I like stepping outside of my comfort zone. I think as we grow as human beings, it’s important to learn and experience new things and this certainly fits into that category. I’ve never been particularly good at sitting still!

Just for fun, do you think Karl [Stefanovic] will let you take his next headshot or portrait?!
I can’t answer that; you’ll have to ask Karl [laughs]. I don’t know that he would sit still long enough!

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Supported by Canon Australia, this exhibition will be shown at SmartArtz Gallery in Melbourne until Thursday 3rd November, before moving to Michaels camera store from Saturday 5th November to Friday 16th December. It will also be on display in Sydney in the forecourt of Customs House at Circular Quay from Wednesday 2nd November to Wednesday 9th November.

For more info on the exhibition, head to the Women of Influence website.

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