On International Women’s Day in March 2023, Serendipity Institute for Black Arts and Heritage launched an exciting new project, 100 Black Women Who Have Made A Mark, celebrating the stories of Black British women who have made a positive change, whether it be across arts, education, technology, science or community activism. Following a public consultation and an open call, 100 Black women have been selected to have their portrait created by one of five visual artists. Collectively, the artworks will be shared in a city-wide exhibition at Leicester Gallery from 1 October 2024 – 4 January 2025.
100 Black women and five visual artists were shortlisted by a selection panel of Sandra Pollock OBE, founder of the Women’s Awards, which recognises women’s achievements across industry sectors, of photographer, media artist and scholar, Roshini Kempadoo, and of Pawlet Brookes MBE, CEO and Artistic Director of Serendipity Institute for Black Arts and Heritage. Those selected offer a reflection of women across a range of professions and occupations who are deserving of recognition, whether they are a familiar face on stage or screen, a pioneer in research breakthroughs, or have worked quietly behind the scenes to make a positive change to their community. There is a particular focus on Black women with a connection to the UK and include household names alongside quiet leaders including sporting trailblazers, artistic directors, school principals, legal experts, politicians, community champions, medical practitioners, artists, actors, educators and entrepreneurs. The names of the 100 Black Women Who Have Made A Mark will be announced in due course.
The five artists who will between them create 100 portraits are:
Valerie Asiimwe Amani
Valerie Asiimwe Amani is a Tanzanian born, UK based interdisciplinary artist and writer. She has exhibited internationally including group shows in Lagos, Paris, Cape Town and Leipzig and solo work at Alliance Francaise, Dar es Salaam and South London Gallery in collaboration with the Roberts Institute of Art. Amani holds a MFA from The Ruskin School of Art. She is the recipient of the 2021 Ashmolean Museum Vivien Leigh Prize for a work on paper and winner for the 2022 Ingram Art Prize. Her work has been featured by Art Monthly, Hyperallergic and the BBC.
Yvadney Davis is a figurative multi-media artist from London whose work is a love letter to her British Caribbean experience. Self-taught, her art has transformed from a hobby to an award-winning practice, which includes exhibitions, commissions and, most importantly, connects the nostalgia and joy of the Windrush Generation with its descendants. Key exhibitions and projects include: ING Discerning Eye, M&C Saatchi x Harrods, Casild Art, Evening Standard, Art Seen, Colours of Art School and Road Chef. Shortlisted for RA Summer Exhibition and John Moore’s Painting Prize.
Gayle Ebose was born and bred in London. She studied Broadcast Journalism at Nottingham Trent University and a few years later received her postgraduate in Fine Art Painting at Camberwell College of Arts at the University of Arts London. Ebose has exhibited in galleries across London including the Saatchi Gallery and Copeland Gallery.
Grace Lee is a multidisciplinary artist of Jamaican and Scottish heritage from Sheffield. She creates vibrant pieces inspired by the biodiversity of nature, well-being and the African Caribbean Diaspora. Lee is a Delphian Gallery Open Call Winner 2023 and has exhibited with Monaverse Lisbon, The Museum of Colour (Manchester Poetry Library, Bodleian Libraries and Pitt’s River Museum) and the Hagtitude exhibition at The Gallery 54 in Mayfair.
Lauryn Pinard is a London-based Franco-Haitian cross-disipline artist spanning phtogorapher, filmmaker, researcher and dance artist whose practice engages with the body as archive. She was Artist-in-Residence at Academy Mews Dance Studio in autumn 2022 and premiered her film series Moun Dlo as part of the Dancing with Decolonisation 2022 conference. She received the Best Independent Practice and Performance Project Prize 2023 and was finalist for the Black Impact Academic Excellence Award in 2020.
The visual artists represent a range of artforms and the portraits will offer a rich and varied interpretation of the 100 Black women and their impact. Talking about the project, Pawlet Brookes MBE, CEO and Artistic Director of Serendipity Institute for Black Arts and Heritage said:
“Amplifying the voices of Black women has always been a significant focus of our work at Serendipity Institute for Black Arts and Heritage. Given that the national theme for Black History Month is ‘Saluting our Sisters’, there is an increasing recognition that Black British women in particular need to be celebrated, supported and heard; this will be our focus throughout 2024. Whilst we work with our artists and sitters to create 100 portraits, we will also be producing a new podcast series, publishing new books and programming film and theatre that places Black women centre stage.”
100 Black Women Who Have Made A Mark is possible with the support of the Freelands Foundation’s Space to Dream Fund, National Lottery Heritage Fund, Arts Council England and Leicester City Council.
For further information, please contact Serendipity Institute for Black Arts and Heritage on 0116 482 1394 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Further information can also be found at www.serendipity-uk.com.
Notes for the Editors
Serendipity Institute for Black Arts and Heritage
Serendipity Institute for Black Arts and Heritage is a leading arts and heritage organisation specialising in actively changing the cultural landscape by producing and fostering high quality new work that reflects the demographic profile of the UK. In doing so, Serendipity produces an artistic and cultural heritage programme that serves and engages all communities. Over the last twelve years, Serendipity has established a successful portfolio of trailblazing projects, establishing itself as a key contributor to cultural practice regionally (Midlands) and nationally, recognised for its excellence on an international scale.
Pawlet Brookes MBE is the Founder, CEO and Artistic Director of Serendipity Institute for Black Arts and Heritage. An experienced and highly respected senior leader and producer, Brookes has been at the forefront of the development of Black arts in the UK. Brookes pioneered the establishment of an annual dance festival in Leicester since 2011, Let’s Dance International Frontiers (LDIF), coordinates the high profile annual Black History Month Leicester, and has edited over 20 publications.
Brookes is currently a member of Arts Council England’s Midlands Area Council and an Associate Lecturer at Falmouth University; she has been a speaker at several international conferences, including being the UK representative at a UNESCO conference in Stockholm. Brookes was awarded an MBE for services to the arts and cultural diversity in the 2022 New Year Honours and made an Honorary Fellow of the Northern School of Contemporary Dance in 2023.
Roshini Kempadoo is a media artist, photographer and scholar. Her research, multimedia and photographic projects combine factual and fictional re-imaginings of contemporary experiences, histories and memories. Kempadoo has been active in documenting Caribbean communities, events, rights issues, and individuals in the UK and the Caribbean. She was instrumental in setting up Autograph, the Association of Black Photographers in the late 1980s, and worked as a documentary photographer for Format Picture Agency (1983 – 2003).
Her photography and artworks are created using montage, layering, narration and interactive techniques of production. They appear as photographs and screen-based interactive art installations to fictionalise Caribbean, UK and USA archive material, objects, and spaces. She has recently completed the Spring 2019 International Artist-in-Residence at Artpace, San Antonio, USA creating the artwork Like Gold Dust.
She is Reader with CREAM (Centre for Research and Education in Arts and Media), at Westminster School of Arts, University of Westminster. She is represented by Autograph ABP, London.
Sandra Pollock is a serial entrepreneur and a multi-award-winning leadership, management, diversity and inclusion, executive business coach and consultant, Founder and CEO of The Women’s Awards and SHINE Magazine. She also specialises in organisational change, advising senior level leaders to make people and business decisions that align with their values and strategy, taking their staff with them to improved staff engagement, business profit and growth.
At the start of 2021, Pollock was listed in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours List and awarded the honour of an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for her services to equality.