An ambitious art installation paying tribute to a legendary Hammersmith suffragette has been unveiled at the town hall.
Hammersmith & Fulham Council and the Tate Collective have staged the display to celebrate the life and work of Indian suffragette and former Hammersmith resident, Lolita Roy.
Lolita – who moved to Hammersmith in 1901 from Calcutta – was a prominent figure in the fight for both British and Indian women suffrage.
The new installation in the glass-enclosed atrium in King Street was designed by young artist Susana Gomez Larrañaga (also known as Susi Disorder).
The display is a four-sided photographic collage of Lolita, fused with other images associated with the suffragette movement – including the famously slashed Rokeby Venus statue by artist Diego Velazquez and the burnt down Tea Pavilion in Kew Gardens.
The Lolita Roy exhibition is the third in the ‘H&F Presents…’ series which aims to transform the landscape of the borough through a series of temporary site-specific public exhibitions.
“It’s great to work alongside the Tate to give one of our past residents, Lolita Roy, the recognition she deserves in helping to win women the right to vote,” said Cllr Andrew Jones, H&F Cabinet Member for the Economy and the Arts.
“This is another step towards making H&F an international beacon for the arts while giving residents from a wide range of backgrounds more opportunities to experience the arts.”
The free public art exhibition is a product of the council’s Art Strategy (pdf) to make H&F one of the leading destinations in the country for the arts.
Other images used in the Lolita Roy display include the penny coin which was defaced by the suffragettes with the phrase ‘Votes for Women’ stamped across it and the Brighton Royal Pavilion which was used as a hospital for injured Indian soldiers fighting during WWI for the British cause.
Lolita and other suffragettes raised funds for the healthcare of these wounded Indian troops.
In 1901, suffragette, Lolita, moved to Hammersmith in search of a better education for her six children.
She went on to become president of the London Indian Union Society as she campaigned for both Indian and British women to get the vote.
Lolita was involved in the organisation of the Women’s Coronation Procession in 1911, asking for women’s suffrage, just five days before King George V’s coronation.
One of the rare photographs of Lolita at the march features on the new installation in Hammersmith.
“This is one of the only photographs of Lolita campaigning for the women’s vote in the UK,” said artist Susana.
“There are probably many women and men like her who have done great things in history that we don’t know about. That’s why this exhibition is so important.
“We’re throwing the spotlight on an extraordinary woman who stood up against the injustices of her time. People need to know her story. And you will remember her face by the end of this exhibition. It’s everywhere.”
Sketches in Spain
Susana, who was born and raised in Santander, Spain, has been drawing since the age of two.
She went on to study architecture at university but dropped out after a year as she realised art was her real passion, and instead did a degree in fine arts in Madrid.
The emerging artist then came to England to do her masters in printmaking at the Cambridge School of Art before moving to London in 2017 to continue her studies.
Her last exhibition ‘Data Redundancy in Concrete’ was held at the Tate Britain, where she took over an entire room in the Late at Tate series.
She used data retrieval, coding and installation to examine the material intricacies of undead data.
Susana is currently teaching creative coding one day a week at the university of Greenwich, where she is doing a PhD in digital arts as she looks into online data as ruins.
The ‘H&F Presents…’ is an ambitious programme of exhibitions in the borough.
But the series will not be confined to Hammersmith Town Hall with plans to expand to different corners of the borough with a variety of different artists and methods.
The inaugural work was from acclaimed artist, poet and cultural agitator Robert Montgomery.
The second installation entitled ‘Beacon’ was created by Saatchi-prize winning artist Nicolas K Feldmeyer. It was made from 396 lengths of string – which laid end-to-end would have span four kilometres.
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