After my last post, a  nostalgia piece for International Women’s Day and Janes Plane, I found out* that I’m apparently one of the “girls from lost subcultures” in a photography exhibit, Visible Girls, by Anita Corbin.

In the summer spring of 1981, when I was 20, I went down to London with my partner, Carol (we lived together for ten years before I moved to the US to be with Kelley), for the first UK Lesbian Conference. It was academic and political. Carol and I were there, though, to party. And at the social we got seriously wasted on magic mushrooms. If I recall correctly (and that’s a big if—in those days I took a lot) Carol began to freak out a bit—those of you who are familiar with the psilocybin  cycle know that this can happen to some people; it generally doesn’t last long—and I led her to a dark wall and put my arm around her to shelter her from the worst of the noise and light until she found her equilibrium. Just as she was breathing and calming down (but was not quite out of the woods) a woman with a camera appeared and asked if she could take our picture. I was a bit fretful behind my euphoria—mushrooms are like that—worried about Carol, feeling super-protective, and was about to say no when Carol beamed and said, “Yeah, let’s do it!”

At which point the photographer, Anita, took this picture.

Two young women standing in close contact in front of a mica-flecked black wall. It's clear they are lovers. Both are wearing school ties, pale shirts, and jeans. Both only wear one earring each in the right ear. Carol, on the left, has short dark hair and a green, surplus army jacket. Nicola, on the right, has short fair hair, glasses, and a school blazer; she is wearing a double women's-sign pin as a tie clip. Their pupils are very slightly dilated.

Carol and Nicola in the Tabernacle, April 1981. Photo by Anita Corbin.

Photo “Nicola and Carol, The Tabernacle, Notting Hill Gate, April 1981” by Anita Corbin

Then I thought no more about it and got on with the serious business of reducing my mind to a microdot. Apparently, though, we signed a release, and gave her our address in Hull, because one day a few months later a book of photos, Girls Are Powerful, showed up in the post. We were in it.

I marvelled for a day or two, then I forgot about it again. And now I find out it was part of an exhibit in London. Anita is trying to find the other “lost girls” to reshoot for a where-are-they-now? follow-up. So far she’s found me in the US—I’ve told her about Carol in the UK—and two women in Australia. So if you think you might know any of those long-ago young women, pass along the link. And meanwhile don’t even think about saying I look like Harry Potter…

Also of interest: Anita has embarked on a fascinating project, First Women UK, a plan to photograph—brilliantly beautifully, archivally—100 portraits of women in the UK who were “first” in their field of achievement. The full collection will go on show in 2018 to mark 100 years of women’s suffrage. Here’s video of Anita talking about it.

First Women UK – an interview with photographer Anita Corbin

So if you have ideas about who should be part of the First Women project, or if you think you can help find any of the young women of Visible Girls, talk to Anita.

* I heard from three people I haven’t talked to for more than 30 years…