Spotlight: LDN WMN in the South
Out of the history books and on to the streets – make sure you check out the incredible new artworks dotted around the city this month, celebrating 20 unsung heroines. LDN WMN is a free public art programme that we’ve been lucky enough to produce, install and help curate for Tate Collective and City Hall.
Here we spotlight the art you can see in South London and the surrounding areas, but you can find more information on london.gov.uk/ldnwmn about all the artworks.
Rosa May Billinghurst by Shadi Al-Atallah, Deptford Station
Shadi Al-Atallah’s mural remembers the legacy of suffragette Rosa May Billinghurst. Born in 1875, Billinghurst was left unable to walk after a childhood bout of polio, and used a hand-propelled tricycle to get around – which she often used to charge the opposition during marches. She was an enthusiastic campaigner for women’s rights, founding the Greenwich branch of the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU), and also working with poor children in local slums. In 1910, a particularly violent demonstration saw police target Billinghurst because of her disability, but despite removing her wheels from beneath her she returned to the protest the very next day. The mural takes over one of our sites opposite Deptford Station, close to where Billinghurst worked on a voluntary basis with workhouses in the area, as well as with local children.
Olive Morris by Rene Matić, Black Cultural Archives
Rene Matić’s four clenched fists stand five feet, two inches high – the exact height of both activist Olive Morris and the artist. A founding member of the Organisation of Women of African and Asian Descent (OWAAD) in London, Morris spent her life campaigning for British people of colour in London and Manchester – where she set up the Manchester Black Women’s Cooperative and Manchester Black Women’s Mutual Aid. The 1970s saw Morris take part in feminist, black nationalist and squatters’ rights campaigns, and this activist past, as well as her membership of the British Black Panther Movement, is powerfully represented in this piece. Each of the four identical fists – a recurring motif in Matić’s work – is inscribed with a poem written by the artist about Morris. They are located in the courtyard of the Black Cultural Archives, in Brixton
Pauline Boty by Julia Vogl, Sutton High Street
Julia Vogl honours Pauline Boty’s role as a founder of British Pop Art with a vibrant, contemporary floor piece. As one of the few female painters in the pop art movement, her often subversive work celebrated femininity and sexuality and wasn’t afraid to question the patriarchy. Despite her success in the 1960s, Boty’s work was largely neglected until the 1990s when it was rediscovered and rescued from the Kent barn it had been stored in. Vogl reflects on Boty’s role as a key figure in 1970s feminism with an artwork that reflects the playful nature of the artist’s work, while encouraging Londoners to explore the piece, and Boty’s legacy, further. The piece mixes together different techniques including data visualisations, word search, and codified geometric patterns in bright contrasting colours to reflect the facts about her life and career that reference Boty’s Pop Art style. Vogl’s piece takes over a square on Sutton High Street, as a tribute to Boty’s South London birthplace.