University of Sheffield displays alumna's sculpture to provoke discussions on female empowerment


Sculpture at University of Sheffield highlights womens voices

Sculpture at University of Sheffield highlights women's voices

'Visible Woman' is an impressive sculpture that sits tall and confident in the Diamond Building at the University of Sheffield, with her arms open wide for discussion. As an exploration of issues surrounding the silencing of women, creator Sarah Cook, alumna and former colleague at the University, chose to use one of the most powerful forms of art to constantly remind people to rethink women's journey of empowerment.

Provoking thought and discussion

“The work explores issues about women being silenced, about the female voice, about fear of that voice, particularly in the context of today’s misogyny and harassment scandals. When Visible Woman was placed in the Diamond Building, the work resonated meaningfully with the issues for women in engineering," comments Sarah. “My creativity is fueled by my feminism and my work researches missing representations of female authority. I examine how aging is experienced by women in our misogynous climate,” she suggests.

Sarah’s work marks the centenary of the Representation of the People Act in 1918, which gave some women the vote for the first time in the UK following decades of struggle. Visitors are invited to consider the journey of women’s empowerment ever since.

“By placing my work in public spaces, it provokes response and interpretation, communicating through gesture, body language and identity. Through this engagement people are encouraged to think about their own stories,"says Sarah.

The sculpture invites conversation about the female voice and the cultural fear surrounding it. The work questions what is real and who can be trusted. Passers-by have been keen to discover who Visible Woman is, and what she might be saying.

Meet the creator - Sarah Cook 

Sarah has had a varied career across the University of Sheffield and beyond. She came to the University for the first time in 1989 to study an MA in post compulsory education and worked as a community based rehabilitation trainer in various countries across Africa and the Middle East. She returned to the school in 1996 to complete a PhD in primary mental health care based in ScHARR and later won a Department of Health post-doctoral award and embarked on a career in mental health care research and teaching.

Following her dreams

“When I recently retired I did something I always wanted to do – go to art college. I embarked on the Masters in Fine Art course at Sheffield Hallam University and have loved the stimulus and challenge studying with professional artists from all over the world. I have always made art and crafts in my spare time, but I don’t see my creativity as separate from my working career. I think we bring our creativity to our professional work in the ways we continually experiment and innovate," says Sarah.

University of Sheffield is committed to empowering women

Women at University of Sheffield thrive with its committment to diversity and inclusion, and gender parity. Work at the University of Sheffield, one of the leading universities in the UK where women truly thrive.
 

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