MP praises Sussex University’s ‘Twelve Women’ exhibition

Simon Kirby at the Twelve Women in Academia exhibition SUS-170119-155906001
Simon Kirby at the Twelve Women in Academia exhibition SUS-170119-155906001

A series of portraits celebrating women at the University of Sussex was on display at the Houses of Commons this week.

Simon Kirby, Conservative MP for Brighton Kemptown and Peacehaven, took the opportunity to see the work originating from his constituency.

Dr Lily Asquith, a Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin Research Fellow (Photograph: Miss Aniela for University of Sussex) SUS-170119-155931001

Dr Lily Asquith, a Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin Research Fellow (Photograph: Miss Aniela for University of Sussex) SUS-170119-155931001

The series of photographs was on show at Jubilee Library in Brighton last year, and celebrates 12 women working in higher education.

Each was asked to choose an object with which to be photographed that either represented an aspect of their work or had some personal significance in their career.

Inspired by the 17th-century Dutch artist Rembrandt, fine-art photographer Miss Aniela created a series of portraits that capture the lives and work of these women.

Mr Kirby said: “I was pleased to see this exhibition displayed in the House of Commons. This is a major initiative for the University with the exhibition celebrating the work of a range of female academics at different stages of their career. It underlines the University’s commitment to issues of equality and provides inspiration to a generation of young women.”

Dr Vinita Damodaran, Senior Lecturer in South Asian History at Sussex (Photograph: Miss Aniela for University of Sussex) SUS-170119-155920001

Dr Vinita Damodaran, Senior Lecturer in South Asian History at Sussex (Photograph: Miss Aniela for University of Sussex) SUS-170119-155920001

The academics who were invited to take part represent a range of career stages; some are leading research in the most competitive areas, while others are just starting their journeys.

One such celebrated academic is Dr Vinita Damodaran, senior lecturer in South Asian History at Sussex, who holds in her image palm leaf manuscripts from her home region in Southern India which contain valuable knowledge about plants and plant medicine.

Dr Damodaran is using indigenous and colonial archives such as these to better understand how previous generations have lived in hostile environments in the past that could become more common as the effects of climate change become more apparent.

The project also includes Dr Lily Asquith, a Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin Research Fellow who works to analyse data collected from the ATLAS experiment at the Large Hadron Collider, CERN.

Dr Asquith started her journey towards academia over ten years ago as a new mother with no science qualifications, and is now developing novel methods to uncover signatures of new physics as part of her research.

Explaining the portraits, Miss Aniela said “What I’ve been doing is shooting them as a set of portraits in this low-key, dark, moody, almost Rembrandt-inspired style, each pictured with a prop that relates to their practice or their personality.

“Each prop has been different for each woman and when the set is put together it becomes a series of interesting and conceptual portraits.”

To find out more about the exhibition, visit: www.sussex.ac.uk/newsandevents/twelve-women