GOVAN’S women, past and present, are celebrated in a new exhibition which aims to highlight the work of Scottish female photographers.

Partick-born Nicola Stead’s portraits of Fouzia, Julia and Nancy are included in Shutter Hub’s Ways of Seeing, which will run online and be projected on to the walls of Glasgow Women’s Library over the next few weeks.

“These portraits were taken earlier this year, pre-lockdown, when women’s groups were meeting on a weekly basis,” says Nicola, who graduated with a First Class honours degree in photography from City of Glasgow College in June.

“I have been greatly impressed and inspired by the women I had the pleasure of meeting throughout this project.”

Nicola’s project began in Glasgow Women’s Library, where she discovered Isabella Elder, one of the city’s greatest philanthropists.

“The story of her life and her good deeds fascinated me and from there, the journey began,” she says.

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“Elder took a particular interest in women’s education, financing and supporting the foundation of Queen Margaret College in 1883, which enabled Scottish women to be admitted to higher education for the first time.

READ MORE: Five fascinating facts about Isabella Ure Elder

“She also took an active interest in the welfare of the women of Govan, the site of her late husband’s shipbuilding business. She established a school of domestic economy and founded Elder Cottage Hospital, the Cottage Nurses Training Home, Elder Park and the Free Library in the area. She is one of the few historical women commemorated with a statue in Glasgow, which stands in Govan’s Elder Park.”

Interest piqued, Nicola was keen to understand more about today’s women of Govan.

Glasgow Times:

“I wanted to look at communities in Glasgow today, to see if Elder’s legacy of female empowerment is still apparent 135 years on,” she says. “I focussed on women’s groups in Govan, and asked them whether they thought there were good opportunities for women in their areas.”

The results inspired Nicola to create a selection of photographs, including the portraits of Fouzia, Julia and Nancy.

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Fouzia, originally from Algeria, has lived in Govan for two years. She is a regular member of the Govan Community Project’s women’s group, which supports women from asylum seeker and refugee communities in south west Glasgow.

Nancy, 89, and Julia are both members of The Govanites, a social group for women of pension age. At 79, Julia is considered the baby of the group.

Glasgow Times:

“I believe they collectively represent a positive continuation of the legacy of the pioneering and empowering work that Isabella Elder carried out before them,” says Nicola. “These strong, determined women of Glasgow are well and truly keeping Isabella’s spirit alive.”

Ways of Seeing launches as part of National Trust for Scotland’s Second Morton Photography Symposium on October 29 as a large scale projection at Glasgow Women’s Library and online at