Gavin Rogers curates “Portraits of Eleanor”.
A celebration of portraits that depict our local MP, Eleanor Smith. Eleanor was elected as a member of parliament for Wolverhampton South West in 2017. A historic moment as the first MP from a Afro-Caribbean background in the West Midlands. To add to this monumental moment, her constituency was once occupied by Enoch Powell – famed for his anti immigration, often hateful speeches and rhetoric. Thankfully times have changed.
We feel very lucky to have Eleanor as our MP today. Eleanor works hard for her constituents, her local people. She is an avid campaigner for many causes including the NHS, the environment, adult social care, education, community services, the arts and local businesses. She is regularly seen on the back benches in parliament voicing the concerns of her local constituents, giving people a platform to be heard. Formerly an NHS nurse of over 30 years, Eleanor closely supports and delivers many national campaigns and policy that surrounds the NHS/ Social Care, and when necessary she stands in solidarity with her workers, never afraid to protest when needed.
In 2017 when Eleanor first became an MP, she commented online about the many portraits of parliamentary peers that lined the walls of government buildings, eyes peering down at her on her first day in office.
We decided to reach out to Eleanor and invite her to come to the local places for adult learning to have her own portrait(s) commissioned. One made by her local community.
The portrait project culminated in a number of events. Workshops at ArtsFest Wolverhampton 2019 for the community to make portraits, a life drawing and photo shoot day when Eleanor and her team came to visit us, and then in the summer of 2019 we launched a live portrait competition. Over 25 artists submitted work, 10 were selected and supported to make work for this show. One artist – Tariq Evans was selected to win an overall prize. Over the past few years Eleanor has supported our students, their exhibitions and actively encouragers art activity in the city. We would like to thank her for her commitment on these concerns. Keep your eyes open for more events about these wonderful
Project Coordinator/ Curator: Gavin Rogers
Funders: Wolverhampton School of Art, Print Hub, Wolverhampton City Council. Exhibiting artists: Rebecca Collins, Tariq Evans, Sandra Fraser, Matthew Garvin, Jatinder Ghataora, Mac McCoig, Lorraine McGinnes, Jan Norton, Nicholas Sims, Lizzie Smith.
Special thanks to: Eleanor Smith MP, Robert Blincoe, Councillor Celia Hibbert, Maggie Ayliffe, Jane Webb, Claire Buckerfield, Faculty of Arts and Social Science Equality and
Diversity team, ArtsFest 2019, Black History Month, Wolverhampton School of Art staff and students, Faculty of Arts Print Support Hub.
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