Spotlight: LDN WMN in the West
Mayor Sadiq Khan’s year long campaign for diversity, #BehindEveryGreatCity, commemorates 100 years since the first women in the UK secured the right to vote. Team Jack Arts was brought on board to help Tate Collective and City Hall deliver a free public art programme as part of the celebrations. LDN WMN honours 20 unsung women who should be in the history books, with original art created by 20 women and non-binary artists.
Here we spotlight the art you can see in West London and the surrounding areas, but you can find more information on london.gov.uk/ldnwmn about all the artworks.
Jackie Forster by Soofiya, Portobello Road
For this wall piece dedicated to journalist Jackie Forster, artist Soofiya took inspiration from her LGBTQ rights activism. “I didn’t see myself as being a lesbian, or her, because I didn’t look as I imagined they did, nor did she,” said Forster, of the representation of gay women. “We weren’t short back and sides and natty gent’s suiting.” Using this quote as a foundation, Soofiya reflects on the depiction of lesbians in mainstream media and art, but also the absence of women of colour from the conversation. The wall piece is created in vivid colours, drawing on the tradition of Mughal paintings. It remembers Forster’s childhood in India, and hopes to offer the same “radical, bold and brave message” that the activist spread through her work with the Campaign for Homosexual Equality – which she joined after coming out publicly in 1969. As one of the founders of Sappho – the UK’s longest-running lesbian publication – Forster held many editorial gatherings in The Chepstow pub, and continued to use it as a meeting place after the magazine stopped publishing in 1981. Sadly now closed, the pub was located just around the corner from our Jack Arts Portobello road site, where Soofiya’s piece can be found.
Lolita Roy by Susi Disorder, Hammersmith Town Hall
Susi Disorder celebrates the life and work of Indian suffragette Lolita Roy, using multi-layered imagery to reflect on her role within reform movements of the early 20th century. Roy organised the 1911 Women’s Coronation Procession – a 40,000-strong suffragette march through London – served as the president of the London Indian Union Society, and also helped raise money for Indian women’s education. Disorder’s four-sided piece explores the role Roy played within the broader social landscape of the time, superimposing images of her over Velazquez’s Rokeby Venus, as well as photographs of Kew’s damaged tea pavilion – set fire to by a pair of suffragettes in 1918. The artwork takes on a multi-dimensional quality across the course of the day, as back-lighting reveals new aspects of the piece, and daylight emphasises others. Disorder’s piece takes over a huge cube structure outside Hammersmith Town Hall. Although Roy was born in Calcutta, she spent much of her life in Hammersmith after moving to London in 1901, and this piece pays tribute to her influence in the city.
Mary Seacole by Heather Agyepong, The Cockpit Theatre
Heather Agyepong explores a lesser-known side of Mary Seacole’s life, with a self portrait that references the nurse’s use of herbal remedies. As well as her well-known work tending to wounded servicemen during the Crimean War, Seacole believed in traditional natural medicine, which she learned about from her mother in the Caribbean. Agyepong has focused not just on Seacole’s compassion and dedication, but also her bravery. In her piece, Agyepong reimagines herself as Seacole, wandering through Epping Forest in search of herbal remedies to help the wounded – a reflection not just on the nurse’s life’s work, but also the importance of clean air and open spaces in London. Agyepong’s work takes over a wall at the Cockpit theatre in Marylebone, not far from Paddington where Seacole passed away in 1881.