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Photographer Annie Leibovitz world tour exhibition opens in Wapping on Saturday

PUBLISHED: 11:10 14 January 2016 | UPDATED: 15:28 14 January 2016

Annie Leibovitz unveils her latest 'Women New Portraits' collection [photos: Vickie Flores]

Annie Leibovitz unveils her latest 'Women New Portraits' collection [photos: Vickie Flores]

Vickie Flores

An exhibition by world-renowned photographer Annie Leibovitz begins its global tour in London’s East End on Saturday.

Her Women New Portraits show opens to the public for the first time at Wapping, running for three weeks at the historic Hydraulic Power Station, before it starts its global tour.

Wapping Hydraulic Power Station where new exhibition by US photographer Annie Leibovitz opens. before going on year-long global tourWapping Hydraulic Power Station where new exhibition by US photographer Annie Leibovitz opens. before going on year-long global tour

The exhibition travels to 10 cities over the next 12 months after its East End debut, heading to Tokyo, San Francisco, Singapore, Hong Kong, Mexico City, Istanbul, Frankfurt, New York and Zurich.

The new collection continues a project Leibovitz began 17 years ago in Washington DC, reflecting the changes in the roles of women today.

It is being commissioned by UBS financial services whose international HQ near Liverpool Street is little more than a mile from the venue chosen for the launch.

“It is extraordinary to do this work for UBS on a subject that I really care about,” Annie Leibovitz said.

Annie Leibovitz with her photo-portrait of  the Queen at unveiling of new exhibition at WappingAnnie Leibovitz with her photo-portrait of the Queen at unveiling of new exhibition at Wapping

“This is such a big undertaking and a broad subject, like going out and photographing the ocean.”

The one person whose picture she would most like to take is German chancellor Angela Merkel, she revealed before the launch.

Without that, her updated collection of influential females was missing “probably the most important woman in the world today”.

Her exhibition began in 1999 with women she most admired.

Leibovitz addresses international media at her 'Women New Portraits' launch at WappingLeibovitz addresses international media at her 'Women New Portraits' launch at Wapping

“It is interesting to stop now, 17 years later,” she adds. “Then to take a look at where we are now.”

Free learning programmes accompany the exhibition as part of an education project with youngsters in local Tower Hamlets schools and across east London.

A teachers’ manual and Children’s activity guide explores ways of seeing through photography, first announced last month.

The exhibition includes work from the original series as well as other photographs taken since.

Final check before Annie Leibovitz puts her latest 'Women New Portraits' on public show at WappingFinal check before Annie Leibovitz puts her latest 'Women New Portraits' on public show at Wapping

The new photographs will form part of the UBS Art Collection, one of the world’s biggest corporate collections of contemporary art with 30,000 works.

Hubertus Kuelps, from UBS, said: “Annie Leibovitz is the leading portrait photographer of our time. “Bringing this project to a global audience fits with our support of projects that encourage engagement in contemporary art.”

Annie Leibovitz, now 67, has been making images documenting popular culture since the early 1970s, when she began working as a photo-journalist for Rolling Stone, becoming the magazine’s chief photographer in 1973.

She went on to work for Vanity Fair and Vogue 10 years later as her international reputation spread.

Meeting the press before her exhibition at Wapping goes global... US photographer Annie LeibovitzMeeting the press before her exhibition at Wapping goes global... US photographer Annie Leibovitz

Her work has been shown at the National Portrait Gallery as well as museums and galleries around the world including Washington DC, New York, Amsterdam and St Petersburg.

They are also included in collections such as the National Portrait Gallery, New York’s Metropolitan Museum and Washington DC’s Smithsonian.

Annie Leibovits has received honours from the Royal Photographic Society, the International Center of Photography, the American Society of Magazine Editors, the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art and the French government, while also designated a ‘Living Legend’ by the Library of Congress.

Yesterday’s launch at the listed Wapping Hydraulic Power Station in Wapping Wall, opposite the Prospect of Whitby, was packed with the word’s media, with TV crews and journalists from America and Europe.

The free exhibition opens Saturday and runs daily till February 7 (Sundays to Thursdays 10am-6pm, Fridays 10am-8pm).

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