International Women’s Day: The image of inspiration

To mark this year’s International Women’s Day (8 March), we wanted to take a moment to celebrate the powerful, inspirational women in our lives. We called on our talented local artists to share their artistic tributes to the women they love, admire, and revere. What follows is a gallery of creative works, including paintings, photographs, poetry and video, featuring women we celebrate.

If you too have created an artwork about an inspiring woman/womxn in your life, or indeed a heroine of yours, tag us on social media @wandsworthart!

Stefan Nedelcu, ‘Eve’ (2020), acrylic and charcoal on paper
“This portrait is a celebration of the most important woman in my life and the mother of my child. Eve is my best friend, a kind, loving and caring person who offers me comfort when I don’t feel great or listens when I need someone to talk to. As one of my biggest supporters, she gives me confidence and encouragement in everything I do. She inspires me in every way because she’s wise, strong, and passionate.” Stefan Nedelcu, Southfields

Nur Ali Sheikh, ‘Anna Mwambui: Grow your own’ (1956), chalk and charcoal drawing
“Anna Mwambui is a Kikuyu woman who, alongside Anna Masela, initiated ‘Chambas’, organic vegetable gardens. They paved the way for women’s independence by encouraging the women community in Nairobi, Kenya to own small plots of land to plant their own vegetables to contribute to a more sustainable lifestyle, thus empowering the women community in Kenya to have a better livelihood, healthier families and economic support.” Nur Ali Sheikh, Roehampton.

“Jenny is a library manager from Christchurch in Dorset. She took up ‘all year round’ swimming in 2014 after her dad passed away. She’d spent many years caring for him and after his death, found that she had more time to pursue her love of swimming.
Since then, Jenny’s swimming has gone from strength to strength, and recently got the coveted Spartans Badge. To qualify for the badge you have to swim 20 Sundays at Boscombe Pier at 11am between Oct and April inclusive.  Despite not usually experiencing her body in a positive way, Jenny enjoys ‘feeling the power of her body’ as she moves through the waves.” Steve Reeves, Balham

Ken McCalla, ‘Winnie Madikizela-Mandela’ (2018)

“The resilience and commitment of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela (1936–2018), South African activist and politician, has inspired men and women globally in the struggle for human rights. She is an iconic figure for me in my lifetime.” Ken McCalla, Tooting

Ellen Doggett, ‘100 Days of Me’ (2020), mixed media on khadi paper 

“After a hard year we should all take time to celebrate ourselves. This is a self portrait project undertaken to help keep me busy and sane throughout the first lockdown.” Ellen Doggett, Earlsfield

Sunshine Negyesi, ‘Claudia Jones’ (2021), oil paint on chessboard, found objects, synthetic hair, tyre, mud.
“This piece is inspired by Claudia Jones. Despite the many obstacles she faced living in England as a young black woman, she founded the West Indian gazette in 1958 and created the Notting Hill Carnival. She gave a voice to a community that suffered from hate crimes and violence, and inspired them to be proud and celebrate their uniqueness and heritage. I’ve used hair to represent the ripping of one’s roots and culture. The tyre symbolises travel and movement, the mud represents the golden thread that connects all our histories into one.” Sunshine Negyesi, Balham

Stella Tooth, ‘Christine ‘Sugary Staple’ of the Neville Staple Band performing at the Half Moon Putney’ (2017), mixed media on paper

“‘Christine ‘Sugary Staple’ co-fronts the From The Specials Band (aka Neville Staple Band) with husband Original Rude boy Neville Staple (ex The Specials), who she manages. I caught them  at the Half Moon Putney, where I’m resident artist, in the run up to 40 years of 2 Tone records (2019) and Christine brought to the stage warmth and fun. Founded in Thatcher-era Britain, two-tone groups like The Specials featured black, white and multiracial people and was about uniting black and white youth. In these challenging times, Christine and the band still deliver the message through upbeat, original pop reggae and ska songs and good works.” Stella Tooth, Putney

“This is a portrait of my beloved 92-year-old grandmother, who I was brought up with. She has experienced wars and lived through lots of up and downs in her life, and has taught me everything about being resilient. She decided to learn painting in her 70s and published her painting book in her 80s. Her dedication to art and her love of nature inspired me to take a leap of faith from my previous corporate career to become an artist 5 years ago. Due to the pandemic, I have not been able to see her in almost two years. While I can talk to her on a video call, her dementia has worsened and she cannot remember me. This International Women’s Day I will celebrate her kindness, her caring for others her whole life, being open hearted, resilient and the heroine of my life.” Monica Tong, Battersea

Susannah Nathanson, ‘Portrait of Dr. Anne-Marie Imafidon’, oil on canvas

“Anne-Marie is the CEO and founder of a company called Stemettes, which is geared toward making the STEM industries more accessible to young women. I met Anne-Marie in person at an event in 2018 and was really inspired by her drive and dynamism. I asked her if she would be up for participating in an ‘interview in paint’. Having begun with an in-depth discussion about her journey, her inspirations, the challenges she has faced, a wonderful rich tapestry of visual references emerged, which I incorporated into the painting.
With Anne marie being such a figurehead in tech, I took the opportunity to apply augmented reality to the painting (click here to see how), playing with the ways traditional portraiture and tech can work together to create new dialogues and levels of connection.” Susannah Nathanson, Earlsfield

Tammy Mackay, ‘Untitled (face)’ (2011), photopolymer print with hand coloured chine collé
“This is a portrait of my mother as a young woman. I found a photograph of my mother from when she was at college and it made me realise how alike we look. My mother has always been inspirational, but perhaps I only truly appreciated her when I became a mother too. She has always been a very capable person, quietly determined with plenty of love to share. The globe artichoke surrounds her face like an ornate collar and references her love of the outdoors, gardens and flowers.” Tammy Mackay, Putney

Lynne Capocciama, ‘Sisterly Love’

“My beautiful sister Jane Jennings truly inspires me. I am so proud of what she has achieved; she, myself and 5 other siblings were brought up on a council estate within a one parent family, which was challenging. Jane was initially a teacher’s assistant at Roehampton Church School, where she has worked for 20 years. Jane decided to go to university and graduated in 2013. She has worked throughout the pandemic, supporting and finding new ways to provide education for vulnerable children at home.” Lynne Capocciama, Roehampton

Ann Hawksley, ‘Amber’ (2020)
“This is a portrait of my daughter Amber Hawksley who is a consultant in Acute Medicine at Lewisham Hospital. She worked throughout her pregnancy during the pandemic until her baby Felicity Rose was born. She never complained. I feel very proud of her.” Ann Hawksley, Putney

Claudia Williams, ‘Untitled’ (2020), pen on paper

ActionSpace artist Claudia Williams creates striking sets of drawings exploring a variety of key themes important to her or from a recent experience. Frequently the themes are reoccurring, focusing on her passion for music, singers and the people in her life. This drawing is a portrait of Claudia’s sister Dionne and was created during the summer of 2020. It is part of a larger collection of drawings of Dionne by Claudia. Claudia celebrates the women that are important to her through her drawings by repeatedly drawing them, each time slightly differently, adding their names and date that they were created. Claudia Williams, Tooting

Ben Speedy, ‘Anne East’, coloured pencil on paper (2021)

“Anne is a published poet (under the name Anne Symons) and a Lay Reader at St Margaret’s Church, Putney, where she frequently preaches and leads courses and workshops. Fluent in British Sign Language, she has worked in the UK, Sri Lanka, and India, teaching poetry and drama to deaf children and adults. Her insight and humour have enlivened our community and the others with which she has spent her time.  She has continued to do so through the year of the pandemic when, as in the video used as the source for this portrait, she has led morning prayer over Facebook from her home.” Ben Speedy, Roehampton

Bobbie Ruchla in 1904 with David, Vic, Issy, Rae, Jack and Sarah. 
The youngest three – Phill, Joe and Fay – were born later.

Kitty Martin

*Translation: go for your father and mother 

bring them home right away 

the children will be alright 

“The woman celebrated in this poem and photograph is my maternal grandfather’s grandmother. Fleeing from oppression, Ruchla and her husband emigrated from Poland to join many of her extended family in England. It was a perilous journey at the mercy and kindness of strangers. Ruchla, like the other women in the family, was resourceful and resilient in the face of continuing difficulty. Truly inspirational.” Kitty Martin, Southfields

Bergina Leka, ‘Living with a fairy’ (2020), photo series

“During the first lockdown, I worked on a personal project, Living with a fairy, which is dedicated to my daughter. She is currently 5 and challenges me everyday to be not only a better mum, but most importantly a better person. She shows inspiring strength and resilience. She was only three when this strange situation started. Meanwhile, she has learned to read and write. She has read over 70 children books, invented a playground at home using the dinner table and sofa, cared (still does) a lot about her little brother and of course behaved as a little girl. She reminds me everyday that it’s not the difficulties that bring you down, but the way that you deal with them.”  Bergina Leka, Southfields

Krystal Wong, ‘Grace Jones’ (2019).
“Grace is unapologetically Grace and that is why I admire her so much” Krystal Wong, Balham

Mandana Khonsari, ‘Shattered, Not Broken’ (2014)

“This work is a celebration of Iranian women and their struggle for equality and freedom, following the Iranian Revolution in 1979. Despite the advent of a backward regime, insensitive to the role of women in modern society, Iranian women have continued to show their resilience and determination in their fight for their equal rights. I salute them and pay tribute to their bravery, resistance and unstoppable fight.” Mandana Khonsari, Putney

Amanda Ward, ‘A Homage to Greta Thunberg’ (2019), ceramic

“The pandemic has both emphasised the climate emergency and subdued the voices of activism. In this sculpture I have revealed the bones of Greta Thunberg’s protest, showing her as part of nature’s whole. I think 2021 is the year to remind the world on International Woman’s day that Greta has done so much to address this issue and she will hopefully continue to be seen and heard.” Amanda Ward, Southfields

Stuart Brown, ‘Dame Vera Lynn’
“An English singer, songwriter and entertainer whose musical recordings and performances were very popular during the Second World War and well loved till her death in 2020.” Stuart Brown, Southfields

Dina Klumbys, ‘Glamour’ (2020), acrylic on canvas board

“My mum is my inspiration. She taught me that women must be strong and ambitious – her personality revolves around her goals and improving her situation. She is confident – she trusts her own abilities and knows that she has value; dazzling – the life of the party; mysterious – she is unafraid to be different and arouses curiosity”. Dina Klumbys, Southfields

Judith Watson,’ Beth Harmon 2′ (2020)

“The main character of ‘The Queen’s Gambit’, Beth Harmon, greatly resembles the real life story of the world renowned chess champion, Bobby Fischer. The Netflix series follows her story as a young girl in an orphanage who learns chess and goes on to become the world champion in the 1960s, then a man’s world.  In her honour I have changed my name from Judith Mary Watson to Judith Bobby Harmon Fisher (no C, being my fiance’s last name!).  Boris didn’t allow our first two attempts to get married, so we’re aiming for the third attempt on the 21 December 2021!  Respect to all our fabulous women worldwide who have achieved so much.” Judith Watson, Earlsfield

“Kamala Devi Harris is the United States’ first female vice president and highest-ranking female official in U.S. history, and the first African American and first Asian American vice president. I painted this image of her first speech after winning the election as a pivotal historical moment on women & power.” Gabriel Corcuera, Balham

Stephanie Marinosci, ‘Athena’ (2020), acrylic on paper

“In Greek mythology, Athena is the goddess of wisdom, courage, civilisation, law and justice, strategy, the arts, crafts and skill. She led and helped the most famous warriors with great wisdom. To me, she represents a strong and wise woman. What an inspiration!”

Stephanie Marinosci, Southfields