“The Women’s Honour Award is a chance for people to celebrate someone who goes above and beyond for them. A lot of the work that women do is behind the scenes, often unpaid, and not rewarded. The sorts of images and paintings we see in public spaces have historically shown a mainly male, privileged voice. I want to create portraits that change this narrative we have seen throughout history by celebrating and honouring these women.”
Sarah Taylor Silverwood
In 2018, the six towns of Sandwell were invited to nominate women who they thought deserved to be honoured and celebrated. The nominated women had many things in common: they went above and beyond; they often worked behind the scenes; they were strong supporters of families and communities; and were volunteers or carers. Ultimately, incredible women, who deserve to be honoured and celebrated.
Three winners were selected by the judging panel to have their portrait drawn by Sarah Taylor Silverwood. Our judging panel included: Syeda Khatun, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member of Sandwell Council; Julie McKirdy, senior librarian at Thimblemill Library; and Tina Cockbill who works at the much loved Nod’s Café in West Bromwich. The winners, announced during a celebratory event that saw each of the women nominated come together alongside their friends and family, are Bally Barquer, Leonie Hart and Barbara Platts. The resulting portraits were a collaboration between Sarah and the winners: she spoke to them about location, objects and the composition of the portrait, finding a way to communicate their stories through the image.
The bespoke wooden plaque features 54 names of all the women who were nominated and this along with the portraits will tour to Civic Buildings across Sandwell including:
- West Bromwich Town Hall
- Wednesbury Town Hall
- Smethwick Council House
- Oldbury Council House
Accompanying the portraits will be a short film featuring interviews with the winners and behind the scenes footage of the making of the portraits. We also launch a special edition of the Sandwell Stories podcast on 27 January 2019 on Black Country Matters, which you can listen to here. The podcast features interviews with three nominators, Kate DeRight, Shindo Barquer and Blanca Fischer – the judges, Tina Cockbill, Cllr Syeda Khatun and Julie McKirdy, Sarah Taylor Silverwood and the winners, Bally Barquer, Leonie Hart and Barbara Platts. After the tour we hope to find a permanent home for the original portraits.
In 2018 it was the centenary of the women’s vote in the UK, yet the powerful movements taking place such as ‘Me too’ and ‘Times Up’ and this project recognise that equality is not a given but something we have to fight for.
Sarah Taylor Silverwood is a visual artist with a practice rooted in drawing. She often makes publications, animations, ceramics and installation works. Recent projects include New Art Gallery Walsall (solo show, 2019), the British Consulate in Chicago, USA (2014) and The University of Birmingham (2013).