East London is the first city in the world where photography fans can immerse themselves in Annie Leibovitz’s fresh, female-focussed project.
Wapping’s former hydraulic power station is now filled with everything from portraits of celebrities Caitlyn Jenner and Meryl Streep to the less recognisable faces of showgirls and intimate insights into the American’s family life.
After switching from a career as a journalist to life behind the camera, the 66-year-old has made a name for herself shooting for Vanity Fair, Rolling Stone and Vogue magazines.
Her latest collection Women: New Portraits features ‘women of outstanding achievement’ to celebrate their impact and role bringing about positive change.
Also Online: Our review of Annie Leibovitz's Women: New Portraits
It builds on a project which began in 1999 alongside Susan Sontag.
Commissioned by UBS, it will be free to enter and run in east London until Sunday, February 7.
After that, it will travel across the globe to locations including San Francisco, New York, Mexico City and Istanbul.
Below, we get the lowdown on the exhibition and give our take on the snapshots inside.
Until February 7, various times, free, Wapping Hydraulic Power Station, Wapping Wall.
On hosting the exhibition in Wapping.
Annie said: "It was so exciting to find the Wapping Power Station.
We were looking for places that were unusual and a lot of you who live here know Wapping was a place where there were a lot of artists, including Jules Wright, who died young.
She curated shows and it feels cool to come to a place that’s been known to have art in it and to re-use it in this way.
On the exhibition itself
Annie said: “It’s a work in progress and we are continuing to sit as we go across this next year.
We’ve got some really exciting sittings coming up.
The work is supposed to be democratic - all the frame sizes are fairly equal and you could have Hilary Clinton next to a homeless woman, there was no rhyme or reason.
It was Susan Sontag’s idea, back in 1999 - I didn’t think it was a good idea.
I thought it was too big, like a huge ocean, and I didn’t know where it would begin and where it would end.
It’s a story that’s never going to have an end, and it was surprising.
This time, I thought ‘I’m going to write down women I would like to photograph that makes sense to add to the project.
What I love to do with my work is show what women do.”
On the exhibition’s sole female focus
Annie said: It’s wondering what women look like and who we are, which is a very important thing.
Men have been portrayed in art and photography very well and we understand how men look but with women we haven’t really developed that thing, who are we?
With my work I am interested in what women do and who we are.
With Virginia Woolf’s House I looked at her desk - and they let me do what I wanted to it.
I started taking everything off the desk and photographed it from the top - it was emblematic to me about art and work and being messy.
Then her husband said how she was very untidy, she was squally and it was a sign to me for the project and the work I do.
And Virginia Woolf was Susan Sontag’s favourite writer, so there’s a portrait of Susan next to her desk.
On American journalist Gloria Steinem who helped Leibovitz compile the list of recent subjects
Annie said: “The more you know about someone, it’s harder to take their picture.
There’s a moment she talks about a specific rock in Central Park so we went, and I photographed her on the rock.
But then we were just at her desk and I took a couple of pictures of her not posing - it’s people at the cockpit and seeing their space at the heart of where they work.
On photographing woman-of-the-moment Caitlyn Jenner, formerly known as Olympic gold medal-winning decathlete Bruce Jenner.
Annie said: "I didn’t expect the all-over embrace for her. I was so moved by that.
It was really well-received.
She was quiet on the first day and we looked at lots of photographs
It’s not something that started when she was young, how to look, do we looked at lots of images of women.
By the second day, she just took over.”