A new exhibition is opening in Donegal this month to amplify women’s voices through photography.

Donegal Women’s Network will launch the Donegal femLENS exhibition on Wednesday 24th November at 7pm in the Donegal County Museum Letterkenny.

The Donegal femLENS project is a series of beautifully captured and thought provoking documentary photography projects developed by women in Donegal, with topics including; Humans and Nature: Saving Seals, Women in Farming, MICA Homeowners Stories, Childhood Freedom, Loss, Living with Intracranial hypertension, Lockdown Emergence, Stepping into the Flow and the lived experience of domestic abuse.

Due to guidelines, there are limited attendance numbers for this event so if you would like to come along please fill in the online form here https://forms.gle/w4KJMUjcwB4SincQA and organisers will be in contact to confirm your place. For further information please contact Donegal Women’s Network on email on donegalwomensnetwork@gmail.com or telephone 074 9722790

The Donegal femLENS Project Story:

As a grassroots women’s organisation the Donegal Women’s Network works to advance gender equality and empower women within our local communities. In 2021, we along with our NCCWN sister project Lucan Women’s Network in Dublin were delighted to collaborate with the femLENS organisation whose mission it is to give voice to communities through photography by providing visual and tech education to women.

Together we brought a number of women from our communities together to take part in a photography and storytelling training programme facilitated by femLens. Over a number of months’ women from Donegal and Dublin learnt about photography techniques, editing and sequencing all using a mobile phone to capture and tell stories.

Maud McClean a femLENS participant reflects on her project experience; “Being part of the FemLens Documentary Photography course was a fantastic experience!  I was SO very fortunate that a friend told me about the training that was being offered free of charge, online over Zoom.  The group consisted of about 14 women, from both Dublin and various parts of Donegal.  We ‘met’ for the first time on 27th April via our screens, and had about 12 sessions over 9 weeks.

Our trainer Kate demonstrated the capabilities of our smartphone cameras and instructed us on various aspects of photography that we’d need and symbolism.  We were also taught about community storytelling and the power of photographs to convey a story.  We looked at planning a story, the kind of shots we’d need to support it, AND were prompted to write some supporting text to accompany it.

We became instantly fascinated in this project and bonded within a week I’d say. Everyone was really helpful, encouraging and supportive. It was something entirely new to all of us, and all gained tremendously from it! I think we’re all feeling somewhat indebted to Kate (FemLens) and Danielle (Donegal Women’s Network) for this wonderful opportunity we had.  The photo stories that came out of these 12 weeks were wonderful, all very different, uniquely done, and were both emotive and powerful in their attention to the subject.

This project led into another one soon after, at least for the Donegal participants, and beyond this we’ve participated together in a number of different collaborations.  At this point – although I wouldn’t have believed it was possible from an online group – I’d call these wonderful women my friends now!”

This group of women not only learnt new skills together but they shared lived experiences, found new friendships and formed a bound of solidarity. We now conclude this 2021 experience with the Donegal femLENS exhibition which will be on display in the Donegal County Museum Letterkenny from Wednesday 24th November until January.

Donegal Women’s Network would like to thank all the women who took part in this unique project, with a special thank you to Jekaterina Saveljeva (Kate) at femLENS for delivering such an empowering training programme and to the County museum for supporting the exhibition of the Donegal femLENS 2021 documentary photography series.