No make-up photo exhibition making women over 40 'visible'

Image source, Jo Blackwell
Image caption, Lindsey Marriott is one of 52 women photographed for the Face It, Own It project

A photographer whose work aims to celebrate women over 40 without their make-up says her exhibition has given them "visibility and a voice".

Jo Blackwell, 58, took 52 portraits and was sent 115 selfies for her Face it, Own it project.

The photographer, from Brixworth in Northamptonshire, said those who took part "really are astonishing".

She said: "Each one of those women have told me their story which is a privilege."

Ms Blackwell launched her project last year.

She said: "It really was a whim, I thought I would have to pay women to come and take their make-up off because some of them would never be seen without their make-up.

"It is all about giving visibility and letting their voices be heard."

Ms Blackwell has also produced a book with all 167 women and a short film with the women she photographed.

The Face It, Own It exhibition is at the J Gallery in Moulton, Northamptonshire, until 6 April.

Four of the women who took part have told the BBC why they got involved.

Image source, Jo Blackwell
Image caption, Lindsey Marriott (left) said taking part in Jo Blackwell's (right) project has given her confidence

Lindsey Marriott, 60

"I've loved every second of it - it's just amazing. The first time I saw it [my photo], it made me cry.

"It's given me the confidence to re-think how I look - this has helped me think, 'Do I need to put my face on?'

"There is a big change in how people perceive woman our age. I've got loads more to do, to learn and contribute."

Image source, Jo Blackwell
Image caption, Judith, 75, said she had been wearing make-up since her teenage years

Judith Hanson, 75

"I think a lot of us, even if we're not putting a physical mask on, are putting a mask on in order to deal with the world, which we are hiding behind.

"It's very common - this feeling we are being judged, and it's more common with women.

"I worry about the current teenagers, because of social media and selfies they feel they have to look perfect."

Image source, Jo Blackwell
Image caption, Lucy Howe said before she got cancer she would not go out of the house without lipstick

Lucy Howe, 50

"I had cancer four years ago and I live life to the full. I did anyway, but I embrace it even more so now.

"I would have never done it [the photo shoot] before cancer - not without my lippy - but when I went through cancer I thought, 'I can't look any worse'.

"I think it's fantastic. Life is for living and I've stopped worrying about what other people think of me."

Image source, Jo Blackwell
Image caption, Lucy Boulter said the attention she has had from the project surprised her

Lucy Boulter, 49

"I don't mind not wearing make-up, I often don't wear make-up, but this; in a book, on TV, my face was even on Vanity Fair's website, this wasn't meant to happen.

"Every woman has a little person inside her, an inner critic, and she can be really mean - and I want to silence them, and mine too and that's what this project is helping us all do."

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