The theme of 2016’s International Women’s Day is equality and empowerment, here we speak to some of UAL’s creative luminaries to get their empowering advice and hear their inspirational quotes
Emma Hill, designer and entrepreneur
My two favourite quotes are:
1. “ You can’t be that kid standing at the top of the waterslide, overthinking it. You have to go down the chute.” Tina Fey
2. “If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun.” Katherine Hepburn
Amber Butchart, DJ, author and dress historian
My advice would be, obvious as it sounds, don’t give up. It’s tough carving out a career in the arts so you have to have determination – that quote, attributed to Einstein – “genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration” – you could swap ‘genius’ for ‘success’ and it would still ring true. And success is rarely a straight path or an overnight phenomenon. Set your own goals and don’t measure your progress by other people’s success.
Emma Hart, artist and Max Mara Art Prize for Women winner
“The hardest thing to do, is to do what you want to do, rather than what you think you should be doing, and it’s hard because it’s hard to work out what you really want to do, and then it’s hard because you have to have courage to do what you want. My advice is caught up in that really – do what you want to do.”
Jackie Lee, fashion designer and entrepreneur
“There are some words from Louise Wilson, she used to say to me “don’t be f**king lazy”. I loved her, she put the rules on her door: “Don’t be lazy! Go do f**king research”, which is all correct! Seriously, that really woke me up, like wow yes that is really true.”
Teleica Kirkland, Director of the Costume Institute of the African Diaspora
“Do whatever you can, however you can, wherever you can. Don’t think you can’t do something because there isn’t funding, space, whatever; there is nothing to stop you doing anything if you want to do it enough. I can’t stand when people think there’s only one way to do something, there are millions as long as you find one way, anyway, find a way to produce, find an outlet. When I was younger there was no internet, but people still found a way to produce and get their stuff out there, now it’s much easier. Just do it!”
Professor Frances Corner, OBE, Head of London College of Fashion
“The artist that changed my world is Jean Rhys. Her writing was so ahead of its time. Jane Eyre is one of my favourite books because of the independence and free thinking character of Jane, however Rhys took this one step further and told the story from the “madwoman” Bertha’s perspective in Wide Sargasso Sea. Rhys gives a voice to the neglected and silenced female and I think the book is a powerful example of feminist rewriting. It was quite radical at the time and really changed the way I thought about women.”
Read how Frances urges us to give #IWD a sporting chance
Sarah Temple, Course Leader, Diploma in Professional Studies. Founder of Conscientious Communicators at London College of Communication
“My advice to female students is to ‘play a different game – play the long game’. It is perfectly possible to have a wonderful career and be a mother too but this is an entirely different, but fabulously rewarding life proposition to our male counterparts.”
Sian Cook, Senior Lecturer, BA (Hons) Graphic and Media Design, London College of Communication, Co-Director of the Women’s Design and Research Unit
My first job was…Record sleeve designer.
The female artist who changed my world is… Laurie Anderson.
My advice to female students is….You ARE good enough.
Jennifer Tuckett, Course Leader, MA Dramatic Writing, Drama Centre London, Central Saint Martins
Most important female relationship in my life is… my mother. When my father died when I was nine, she kept everything going on her own – she’s the strong woman who has made me see how strong we can be.
The best thing about being a woman in 2016 is… the opportunity to change things. You see women taking the lead on a lot of projects in the arts at the moment – from Lucy Kerbel running Tonic Theatre, Simelia Hodge Dallaway running Artistic Directors of the Future, and my work with University Women in the Arts. It’s important these schemes are about taking action and creating positive change.
My advice to female students is… work hard and be kind. The greatest female mentors I have had have embodied both of these things. My mentor Kate Rowland, who created BBC Writersroom, the BBC’s new writing department, is a wonderful example. I remember her telling my students: “determination, resilience and a passion for something will shine through”. That’s very true. The most successful people I’ve worked with have also invariably been the most generous, the kindest and the most hard-working. I think that’s important to remember.”
Lucy Algar, Pathway Leader BA Theatre Design, Wimbledon College of Arts
The most important female relationship in my life is…With my daughters.
The female artist who changed my world is…Yolanda Sonnabend.
The hardest thing about being a woman in 2016 is…Also the best – being a mum and having a career is undoubtedly challenging but it is also incredibly rewarding.
The way I would explain gender equality to a 10 year old girl is: Ensuring that women and men are treated equally everywhere is still a dream and not a reality. We must keep fighting to ensure that women and men are treated equally and especially that we are paid equally. Women still earn much, much less than men over the course of their careers.
The best lesson I learnt the hard way is: If you work hard and be patient your career will return, and be stronger for, having children.
Dr Lois Rowe, Programme Director, Fine Art, Wimbledon College of Arts
Being a woman means… often facing an unequal world. Even in academic contexts there is a division between the soft ‘pastoral’ role, which is often a role that a woman occupies. It is the role that often manages the increasing responsibility around student mental health and care that sits outside of the curriculum. And then there is a research role, or an international profile role, which is often occupied by individuals who are not primary carers, mostly men. This is a subtle but very distinct division of how careers progress within the academy.
Most important female relationship in my life is… a contemporary dance wear designer called Mihoko Tanabe. I worked for her when I was in my mid-twenties in Tokyo. She had been a prima ballerina and had divorced her husband. She was a single mother and only hired women over the age of twenty five as in Japan there is a saying that “after the 25th you expire”. You become known as “Christmas Cake”. So she hired many women who were retired dancers and she ran an incredibly successful company in Tokyo. She was passionate about what she did as an entrepreneur and equally passionate about enabling other women.
Read more about International Women’s Day and more empowering quotes about “Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step It Up for Gender Equality” on the UN website
Read UAL’s Buzzfeed post 5 Powerful Images by Female Graphic Designers
Read Max Mara Art Prize for Women winner Emma Hart’s full interview