Five portraits of inspiring women unveiled at DCU

Ria McGuire

For International Women’s Day on March 8th, DCU unveiled five commissioned portraits of inspiring women.

The virtual event, #WomenOnWalls DCU, unveiled the portraits of Beatrice Alice Hicks, Katherine Johnson, Dr. Marie Maynard Daly, Kathleen (Kay) McNulty and Dame Kathleen Lonsdale.

All five women are celebrated for their work and careers in the world of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).

President of DCU, Daire Keogh, introduced the event saying it was “an important milestone for the journey of the university.

“(The portraits) are an important statement of the universities commitment to diversity and inclusion,” says Keogh.

The event, #WomenOnWalls DCU is a part of Accenture’s Women on Walls campaign.

“Accenture were very keen to work with the university as they wanted to explore how we could increase the visibility of female leaders across different institutions and societies,” says the Cultural Arts Officer for DCU, Marcella Bannon.

The Accenture campaign was set up in 2016 and aims to make women leaders more visible in society through commissioned portraits to create a lasting cultural legacy in Ireland.

The DCU Women on Walls event is the third installment of portraits for the campaign.

The campaign began with the Royal Irish Academy in 2016 and in 2019 Accenture partnered up with the Royal College of Surgenons in Ireland to unveil a series of portraits.

“The slogan of the campaign is ‘You cannot be what you cannot see’,” says Bannon.

“The hallmark with all of these women featured in the campaign is that they all worked exceptionally and worked exceptionally hard against so many barriers,” says the Cultural Arts Officer.

“Young people do not have to be exceptional in their class, anyone can do a STEM subject,” adds Bannon.

The virtual event also featured a commissioned documentary about the artists behind the portraits and their individual journey in discovering who their subjects were.

In a statement regarding DCU Women on Walls, Chief Executive of Business to Arts, Andrew Hetherington, said: “Commissioning artists to create new work is one of the vital ways businesses and other organisations can support the arts during and beyond the pandemic.”

The five chosen artists were; Bríd Higgins Ní Chinnéide, Jackie Hudson Lalor, Una Sealy, Jim Fitzpatrick and Blaise Smith.

“We did an open call last year, we received 57 applications and from thos applications a panel was set up,” says Bannon.

“So we looked at the work over a number of hours, shortlisted from there down to 5 and then we met the artist who gave us a presentation of their vision.”

The #WomenOnWalls DCU event also puts in motion and commences a year full of DCU projects and initiatives.

“The next step is to actually get the artwork on the walls of DCU, in May/June we plan to do that once Covid restrictions ease,” says Bannon.

“To coincide with this we’re also launching a DCU hub which will feature not only the leaders that are in the portraits but also it will have a page that will focus on inspirational leaders in DCU.”

“We want to place the spotlight on living researchers, and by the end of 2021 we hope to have profiled 15 DCU researchers and have a campaign surrounding that,” says Bannon.

Ria McGuire 

Image Credit: DCU