Inspirational Women Portrait for the University of Leicester

Speech from the Unveiling

I was so pleased when I found out I had been given the commission as it is a brilliant project to be a part of. I liked the idea of inspirational women being painted by women to help diversify the university’s art collection. I was told I would be painting Esua Goldsmith the first female president of the students union.

I met Esua at her home in London. We both talked about the ideas we had and how we could convey them into the painting. Like the idea of having images that mean something to Esua in the background. We also wanted Esua in some colour so that she would stand out from the rest, just like she did when she was the president of the students union and going to meetings dressed in bright yellow to stand out against the black academic robes everyone else was wearing.

I use oil paints as the slow drying time suits me well as it allows me to be flexible with my time in the studio as I work full time here as a porter. I even add clove oil to the paint to make it stay wet for longer periods allowing me to come and go from the studio and not have to worry about the paint drying on my palette. I worked from photographs that I had taken to complete the portrait which took just over 100 hours to complete.

Working at the University allows me to see the vast array of artworks on display around campus. It makes me proud to say that my work is now among them and helping the university’s art collection to be a more equal and diverse.

Thank you for choosing me to paint one of the inspirational women portraits. It has been a pleasure to get to know Esua over the last few months and all the amazing things she has achieved so far. I hope I have captured not only Esua’s likeness but also her personality.

Esua Goldsmith and I with the portrait at the Unveiling at Leicester University.

© 2019 by Megan McMullan

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