Maria started dancing at the age of 5 and was part of the acclaimed national dance company Las Cabales, graduating as a ballet and flamenco dance performer-teacher, and remains a consultant for the same dance company internationally.

In 2014. Sánchez co-founded her first company Culturista, a creative, scalable and self-sustainable start-up in digital cultural tourism. Maria José has been based in Newcastle, Australia, where according to her own words, the city has changed her and has shown her the intrinsic relationship between movement, women and nature. She has found inspiration in the city's subtle sunrises and in the waves of the sea, and has integrated the concept of human-nature into her research.

Description in English

One day I left a beautiful valley

Of restless women wearing different colours on their bodies

Excitement loaded in my chest,

Swinging mountains, crossing the Pacific crest.

I arrived at the peninsula, far from what I knew

Accompanied by hope, I kept a secret:

The strength of movement that flowed from my wanderings in flamenco.

When that force arrives, it merges with the gentle flow of the ocean's echo.

The soft, hued sunrises of February

The sea's scent impregnating my body

I arrived brimming with culture and a desire to express

the history of myself and my ancestors

Here, I blended with nature,

Which truly polished and created waves in my sway

Newcastle, every day I smell you in your sunsets,

Dawning in your sea

Makes me feel like I'm not from here nor there,

In the end..

We are all the movement of those waves

Description in Spanish

Salí un día de un bello valle de mujeres inquietas

que portan distintos colores en sus cuerpos.

Con la ilusión cargada en mi pecho

que oscila montañas y cruza el pacifico.

Llegué a la península, lejos de todo lo que conocía

y acompañada con la esperanza, guarda en mi secreto:

la fuerza del movimiento que me venía de mis andanzas en el flamenco.

Cuando llega esa fuerza se dosifica con el dulce oleaje…

los amaneceres con colores tenues de febrero

el olor a mar que se impregna en mi cuerpo.

Yo venía cargada de cultura y ganas de expresar la historia mía y de mis ancestros,

Me mezcle con la naturaleza que ha pulido y creado olas en mi andar.

Newcastle cada día te huelo en tus atardeceres,

amanecer en tu mar me hace saber que ni de aquí, ni de allá,

Al final..

Somos todas esas olas en movimiento.

Text by Maria Jose Sanchez

Lotte Lily Hilder started her arts and creative industries career in photography & film. In 2003 after relocating to Melbourne for 13 years, she produced, curated and managed a wide variety of arts and cultural initiatives for Government, Arts, and festivals. Currently she works as a cultural development worker in local government, and freelances for Aboriginal art & design company mili mili in Newcastle NSW.


We Are is a multi-location multimedia photographic experience highlighting creative women of Newcastle, commencing on Wednesday March 8th 2023 (International Women’s Day) and culminating in a celebration event at The Lock-Up on Friday March 24th.

We Are is a portrait project featuring 20 WH!P Collective members turning their lenses towards fellow female and non-binary creatives to highlight the many benefits that a thriving and diverse artistic community bring to our region.

WH!P (Women* of the Hunter !n Photography) was founded in 2020 to embrace and create opportunities for professional photographers from the Hunter region by leveraging the combined skills, experience and credentials of its members. Fostering a culture of support, celebration, exchange, education, advocacy, action, enjoyment, play and growth, it hopes to actively raise the profile of contemporary photographic excellence, education and experimentation in the Hunter Region. WH!P works collaboratively with those both within and beyond the local area who share our belief that the world should be shown through a lens as diverse as the real world.

*all references to women/woman is inclusive of gender diverse people

WH!P’s logos and graphics designed by Laura Kent

"I arrived brimming with culture and a desire to express the history of myself and my ancestors"

Maria Jose