Welcome to the Sisterhood virtual exhibition by artist Danielle Salloum
“Sisterhood expands women’s roles beyond those often portrayed by society, demonstrating and encompassing view of women. We stand together, through solidarity, to celebrate how far we have come.”
2020: Year of the Woman. This exhibition by artist Danielle Salloum highlights the many diverse, extraordinary women from two very different communities who are speaking but not necessarily being heard loud enough. Through 20 portraits from Cheltenham and Gloucestershire and 20 from Trinidad and Tobago, Salloum glances into the lives of selected women. Each portrait shows how these contemporary women are making a difference, both in big and small ways.
Salloum says the women in her exhibition represent positive change and achievements in a number of of fields, from human rights and environmental activists to women in sports, business, art and education, mothers to political leaders.
This exhibition features accomplishments and advancements, through individuals and movements that could reshape our present for the future.
Collectively, Sisterhood pays tribute to the multi-dimensional beauty of women and asks us to continue to support and empower one another.
Join the Sisterhood #SisterhoodStory2020
Explore the Portraits
Our Third floor gallery
McArtha Linda Lewis, also known as Calypso Rose, was born in 1940 in Bethel, a small village in Tobago. She was called Calypso Rose, as the rose is the mother of all flowers.
When she was just 15 years old, she wrote her first calypso, Glass Thief. It was the first calypso to denounce inequality between the sexes. Since then, she has composed more than 800 songs and recorded more than 20 albums. She made history in 1963, where she was the first woman to win the Calypso King contest. The competition was renamed Calypso Monarch in her honour. In 1977, she was the first women to win Trinidad’s prestigious Road March competition.
Although she is 80 years old, she is still going strong and isn’t planning on slowing down any time soon. She is still coming out with top hits such as Leave Me Alone and Human Race, and has continued addressing important issues such as domestic violence and social injustice.
Bunty O’Connor has two passions: making clay sculpture and planting trees. She and her husband Rory ran the highly successful Ajoupa Pottery workshop from 1987 to 2010. Their four-acre garden in central Trinidad is designed following the principles of permaculture. A lifelong hobby of walking in the forest and collecting seeds has taught her much about the rich communion of the wild environment. In 2010, Bunty took part in a project involving 27 schools from South Trinidad. Students learnt to collect seeds, propagate them and plant in their school yards.
Deneka Thomas is an internationally recognised poet, writer, arts educator, and activist. She is the definition of the Trinidadian saying “small axe cut down big tree” as she is often referred to as a performer who is small but with powerful work. Deneka is the Program Manager of Girl Be Heard, Trinidad and Tobago. She is the 2018 National Grand Slam Defending Champion and 2018 Woman Deliver Young Leader. Deneka uses the allure of metaphor and raw imagery in her performances while always finding new ways of addressing contemporary issues and personal experiences. She continues to expand her craft, mentor and create spaces for young people and activists in the area of advocacy, art intervention, and youth empowerment.
Ekka Mc Fee
Ekka Natasha Mc Fee was awarded Trinidad and Tobago Unified Teachers Association’s Teacher of the Year 2018. She is an accomplished teacher at The Cascade School for the Deaf, where she has been giving committed service for the past 18 years. Ekka earned this award because of her love and dedication to her students and her contributions to the deaf community. Ekka believes that teaching goes beyond the call of duty. She was motivated to become a teacher because of the great teachers she had as a child and urges teachers to continue to motivate and inspire their students, as Ekka believes that they are our future.
Diva Amon researches the weird and wonderful animals of the deep ocean and how our actions are impacting them. Diva has participated in expeditions around the world, exploring previously unknown deep-sea habitats from Antarctica to the Mariana Trench. During this exploration, Diva has ventured down to 2.6 kilometres below the ocean surface. She feels that sharing her science with the public, fellow scientists and policymakers is of the utmost importance.
Diva has recently spoken at the United Nations and the 2018 Nobel Week Dialogue, as well as filmed with the BBC and CNN, to name just a few. Diva is also the co-founder of the non-profit NGO SpeSeas, dedicated to increasing marine science, education and advocacy in Trinidad and Tobago.
Elspeth Duncan is a published writer, newspaper columnist, photographer, musician, award-winning film maker and certified Kundalini Yoga instructor. Since moving to Tobago from Trinidad in 2012, Elspeth has become increasingly devoted to animal rescue. Through her organisation, Venus Doggess Of Love, she helps to positively transform the lives of dogs, cats and various animals of other species. She is driven by the organisation’s motto-‘Love changes lives’. In December 2018 Elspeth was one of the five people named Angostura Champions and she was granted an award for her work for animal welfare and activism.
Gabriella Bernard is a model, beauty queen and marketer all wrapped in one. She has been on the fashion scene since her official debut with Bene Caribe in 2017. Before becoming a contestant in the 2018 series of the Caribbean’s Next Top Model, Gabriella was an advocate for the Natural Hair Movement. During the show she was pressurised into chemically straightening her hair, which she publicly stood up against. Since leaving the show Gabriella has become a face for the movement and has grown her hair once again, with her fro thriving beautifully. Gabriella uses her profile as a platform to support and educate other women on the Natural Hair Movement through videos on her social media networks.
Emily Aboud is an artist, as is everyone if they want to be. She is a director, an engineer, a drag king, a woman, a performer, a cynic and a dreamer. She is many conflicting things at once, including a writer, operating under the pen name, lagahoo, the shapeshifter from Caribbean folklore. She is focused on bringing the stories of marginalised people to the forefront, challenging social conceptions and satirising what oppresses us, be it gender, class, race or sexuality. She believes that all art must be political, else it is conservative and therefore, useless. She is currently based in London as an associate artist at the Bush Theatre and has directed and performed internationally.
Goomtee Ragobar is a farmer living at Fishing Pond, Trinidad. Her passion is farming and her purpose is helping humans. In October last year, a national disaster was declared when there was a freak flood. Farmers and residents lost their crops, livestock and homes including Goomtee. Although she was devastated, she took it into her own hands to make sure her community was given the right support. Through her hard work and by approaching The Living Waters Community, the remote village has been able to get back on track. “I give thanks to God for blessing me with the courage to pursue my passion. Each time the road ahead darkens, the Lord sends guardian angels to shine a redeeming light, reminding me of my humanitarian purpose”.
President Paula-Mae Weekes
Her Excellency Paula Mae-Weekes took office on 19 March, 2018, becoming the first woman to hold the office of President in Trinidad and Tobago. A Bishop’s girl who then attended the University of the West Indies. She has played pan and now holds the office of President, is in her being, a true Trinbagonian woman.
Last year on Independence Day, Her Excellency stated: “Every individual has an important role to play in nation-building. The active participation of every citizen in the social, economic and political life of our nation is required to ensure that our children inherit a stable and prosperous country”.
Displayed with the kind permission of Her Excellency, Paula-Mae Weekes, O.R.T.T, President of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.
Meiling founded the Trinidad-based, premier fashion house Meiling Inc. over 40 years ago. Meiling Inc Ltd. has a legacy of sustainability and mentorship as Meiling believes that industry knowledge should be passed on to apprentices who in turn help ensure that the Meiling brand, and its outstanding brand values, live through time.
In 2018 she completed two cycles of mentoring for fashion industry enthusiasts and practitioners, age 16 to 60. Studio operations are energy-efficient, incorporate recycling and upcycling. Meiling was selected to represent Trinidad and Tobago at the first ever Commonwealth Fashion Exchange at Buckingham Palace, Westminster, London in February 2018.
“Greatest lesson I’ve learnt is that you just can’t fulfill everyone’s expectations. Therefore let your own be the most important – Be your own best self”.
Ria Ramnarine, an International Women’s Boxing Hall of Fame inductee and Trinidad and Tobago’s first female World Boxing Champion. Her penchant to overcome challenges is her main motivation. After an illustrious 15 year career as a professional boxer and kick-boxer, Ria pursued coaching. Ria created Boxing Beyond the Ring, a program which seeks to empower women and girls, especially in the fight against gender-based violence.
Shamla Maharaj has Ccrebral palsy from birth. At school, she was subjected to rejection, discrimination, stereotyping and had her basic human rights infringed upon. Back in her hometown, poverty, a rum shop culture and a lack of opportunity was the order of the day.
Today, Shamla is founder of AbNormal Progress, host of Unique Not Different, co-author of an Amazon bestseller, international keynote speaker, a strong business development professional with a BSc., MSc. and is currently pursuing her MPhil/PhD in the agribusiness/ agri-marketing field.
Shamla is insistent about proving that a person with a disability can live a full life once the opportunity is created.
Even before Rochelle began working with children in the favelas of Brazil she knew that working with marginalised, vulnerable communities would be her life’s work. She has since dedicated her life to working with people in need of protection.
In 2008, a year after working in Brazil, Rochelle began tutoring a young boy from South Sudan in Georgia, USA, where she was studying. She then worked in a refugee resettlement in the USA and now works in Trinidad and Tobago coordinating the Ministry for Migrants and Refugees at The Living Water Community, overseeing all protection and programming activities.
The Syrian-Lebanese Women’s Association
It all started with a spirit of civic mindedness and a love of charity. The Syrian-Lebanese Women’s Association (SLWA) has spent more than 60 years quietly giving back to Trinidad and Tobago, doing work to benefit those in desperate need and who often have nowhere else to turn.
What started with a group of six women has, over the years, expanded to the daughters, granddaughters and friends of those initial members, all with the same mindset and embracing the idea of charity. Today, more than 350 members of the SLWA raise contributions to support charitable work. Receiving numerous requests for all manner of charitable activities – from medical to educational and housing needs – the SLWA properly assesses each case, ensuring no request goes unanswered, and always strives to find unique and interactive ways to raise funds through the community.
This picture features a president from each decade of the SLWA’s existence.
Left to right:
Minerva Sabga (first president)
Justine Aboud-Chamely (current president)
Save Our Sea Turtles Amanda Sochan, Tanya Clovis, Jezrine Bovell
SOS Tobago was founded in 2000 at a time when turtle poaching was rampant on Turtle Beach and Mt. Irvine Back Bay. Today, thanks largely to the consistency of their community patrol effort, it’s been years since Tobago has lost any leatherbacks on their beaches. SOS has also become part of national & regional research & monitoring efforts focused on saving these critically endangered species and their habitats. In this era of global climate change, this work is even more urgent and necessary for small islands like Tobago. Amanda, Tanya and Jezrine are proof of the impact that a tiny group of committed people can have.
Stephanie Leitch is the Founder of one of the region’s leading feminist organizations WOMANTRA. She advocates for the rights of women and girls, including those from sex and gender minority groups. Some of her original campaigns include, Silent Silhouettes, an annual installation that honours femicide victims and A Woman a Day, which highlights the accomplishments of local feminist icons during women’s history month.
As a radical voice in the Trinidad landscape, Stephanie has openly challenged the sexism of state officials and was instrumental in the lobbied resignation of a Port of Spain Mayor. She is also the co-founder of feminist mentorship program, Sistah 2 Sistah and an advisor to UN Women.
Tricia St. John
Tricia St John is a determined woman who believes fiercely in God. She has a desire to help others and has learnt to embrace both good and bad.
The absence of her left forearm, two missing fingers from her right hand, multiple scars about her shoulders and neck are disfigurements sustained by chop wounds from the wielding machete of an angry ex-partner. Tricia is a survivor of domestic abuse.
Tricia has authored two books Before Me, After Me, Now Me and Moving On. Tricia wrote the former during her days spent at a safe house where writing was a form of therapy. Her life experiences have taught her to be more giving, less judgemental, more expressive, and to cherish each day as it comes.
Akilah and Kemba Jaramogi
Jaramogi is a vibrant leader in the NGO sector and has been active in field work over the past three decades. She has contributed enormously in both the environmental and cultural sectors in Trinidad and Tobago.
Akilah is the co-founder of the Fondes Amandes Community Reforestation Project (FACRP) and the Merikin Heritage Foundation. She is also the proud owner of an ecological business, Akilah’s Jewelry.
Akilah has represented Trinidad and Tobago promoting the FACRP model of community forestry, preservation of the Merkin Maroons culture as well as showcasing her natural jewellery.
Kemba Jaramogi is a trail blazer who has defied many odds to become an exemplary youth leader in Trinidad and Tobago since age nine. She graduated with honours in international development and NGO management from the University of East London. Kemba is the Technical Director of the Fondes Amandes Community Reforestation Project and focuses primarily on education and outreach, mentoring interns and volunteers as well as planning for the NGO’s development. She is a World Economic Forum Global Shaper and a proud recipient of the National Youth Award in the field of environmental conservation.
Tshenelle Bethel-Peters aka Nelly B. is a natural hair, plus size and lifestyle blogger, who loves to sing, code and engulf herself in nature. She believes in the power of a smile and that a woman, once she embraces her true self, is unstoppable.
This year, Abbie Hunt, Annie Gore, Christie Kennedy and Paige Tarling, aged 14-16, won the award for #ConfidentGirls in the No Child Left Behind Awards for taking on the important roles of youth mentors. As mentors, they have taken part in an 11-week voluntary program by taking personal social development sessions where they learnt about relevant ‘hot topics’ such as healthy relationships sexual wellbeing, drugs and alcohol awareness, consent, online safety, peer pressure, positive body image and awareness of county lines activities. This has enabled them to enhance their knowledge and to help and give advice to other young people within their community.
From left to right:
Tolmeia Gregory, also known as Tolly, is an environmental activist. Tolly began educating herself about the climate crisis after discovering that the fashion industry, an industry she had always wanted to break into, was exploiting people and the planet. Since 2012 Tolly has been using her online presence to raise awareness about the climate crisis and inspire people to step up and use their voices to affect change. She is also a part of the movement Extinction Rebellion, which was formed in Stroud, Gloucestershire in 2018. Tolly works at a local level in Cheltenham, but also internationally as a digital artist in the International Media & Messaging team.
Steph Webb Hale
Steph Webb Hale is a mother of three and is a member of the Wonder Women group based in Whaddon. The Wonder Women meet at the Oakley Community Centre, where together they create a sanctuary for other women; a safe space for mothers to get out of the house, to talk, have adult-time and to get or give advice.
During the sessions the women encourage each other to learn new skills that they can use in their everyday lives or teach their children, such as arts and crafts, cooking and yoga. The Wonder Women all feel that the group helps them with many difficult issues such as mental health and confidence. They each feel empowered to be a Wonder Woman.
There is an energy that emanates from Simone Hindmarch; a blend of steely determination and disco-ball-sparkle. It has taken her from swimming Gold as a teenager at the Commonwealth Games, to today’s international business stage, enthusing firms to be a ‘force for good’. As Managing Director of Commercial, the £70m business services company she has built with her brother, Simone has forged a path grounded in social and environmental sustainability. In 2018 Simone was honoured with a Queen’s Award for Enterprise in sustainable development. Simone lives life with conviction, helping young people develop workplace skills. Her leadership empowers an extraordinary team and, together, they are changing the model for modern businesses.
At 15 years old, Sam O’Shea was struggling with self-esteem issues, turning to both bulimia and drugs. The trauma of her father’s death triggered a downward spiral of drug abuse and crime which led to two years’ imprisonment. Inspired by her son, she entered the 12 Step Programme whilst in prison, where she found her hardest step was making peace with herself. Sam realised her strength and determination when she declined probation as she didn’t want to re-enter her old lifestyle. Now clean for five years, Sam has worked hard to rebuild relationships with her family and friends; has found solace within the St. Paul’s community and believes that positivity is the way forward.
Born to parents of Somali origin, Sado Jirde moved to the UK in 1999. After obtaining a BA in financial management and business information technology at Gloucestershire University, in 2007 Sado started working at Black South West Network. Just five years later, she took over as the director of the organisation and has worked tirelessly to raise the profile of racial inequality at strategic and policy levels, locally, regionally and nationally. Sado was the named West Women Of The Year 2019, Most Inspirational Role Model African Achievers Award in 2015 and was featured on the Bristol Power List 2020. Sado is inspired by the vision of creating a fair, just and equitable world.
From the age of two Laura Newcombe had to learn to overcome what seemed like insurmountable obstacles as a result of being deaf. Laura spent many years feeling different and for the most part struggled to connect with people, whilst also having to deal with anxiety and depression in the background. This hidden disability can be hard at times, yet, Laura makes sure that it doesn’t hold her back from living her life. She has achieved a bachelor’s and a master’s degree and is now working in Cheltenham in the field of communications. Laura is also currently in the process of writing a science-fiction book where she brings her own experiences of being deaf into it, in hope to shed light and inspire others who may be going through something similar. She feels fortunate to receive life-changing support from her furry companion, her Hearing Dog Dillon.
Kerissa Khan was born in Trinidad and Tobago and lives in Cheltenham. She is an aeronautical engineer, pushing technological boundaries, designing world-leading advanced aerospace systems and breaking gender stereotypes in her field. Kerrissa is the youngest member of the Royal Aeronautical Society Council, leading the world’s oldest professional body dedicated to aeronautics. She is also the first woman to chair the Gloucester and Cheltenham branch since it was established in 1930.
Championing equal opportunities, Kerrissa is a founding signatory of Her Majesty’s Government Women in Aviation and Aerospace Charter and Women in Defence Charter. She is a Cotswold Life Engineering, Manufacturing and Innovation award winner; STEM ambassador and industry trailblazer. Kerrissa is grounded by her faith and driven by her passion.
Kareta Bradbury is from Cheltenham and is a proud mother to two beautiful daughters. Kareta has worked with children and young people for over 25 years which started when she travelled to the USA to work with inner city kids, an experience that made her realise that she could make a difference to people’s lives.
Kareta spent 12 years specialising in grief and trauma work. Today, she works at the Commercial Foundation mentoring young adults who are facing barriers, supporting them to get one step closer to where they want to be in life. The eight week course Kareta coordinates has an 81% success rate, where young adults progress into employment, an apprenticeship or further education. Kareta believes if she can make a small difference to someone’s life, it is always worth the effort.
Frances Mills is embarking on a 4,500 mile running journey of a life time. Frances is an outdoor enthusiast who is running around the coast of the Britain over three winters. She has run and camped over 2,000 miles so far, with Scotland the next challenge on the horizon. Exploring the outer edges of Britain on foot, Frances has run past rugged cliffs, gale force winds, golden beaches and coastal villages. Frances hopes to promote a healthier, more active lifestyle, encouraging us all to connect more with nature and our surroundings, across all four seasons.
Anna and Cameron McLean
In January 2020 Anna McLean and her brother Cameron, known as The Seablings, became the first sibling duo to complete the World’s Toughest Row, crossing 3,000 miles of the Atlantic sea in 43 days, 15 hours and 22 minutes. The race earned the brother and sister team two world records. It was a true test of endurance. Alternating two hour rowing shifts, it meant that neither Anna nor Cameron had more than a maximum of two hours sleep at any one time, for the month and a half they were at sea.
Anna, 25, was shocked to discover first hand the under representation of women across science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) when she started her career in IT consulting. This inspired her to launch the #sameboat campaign for gender equality. Aligning her passion for adventure with her commitment to support the drive for gender equality, #sameboat has raised over £25,000 for the charity UN Women UK.
From an early age, Bryony Hopkins was diagnosed with learning difficulties and epilepsy. Later on in life, she suffered badly with her mental health. Bryony became scaredto leave the house due to stress, anxiety and depression which led to having a tonic-clonic seizure two years ago. Bryony then joined the St Pauls Activity and Community Events group (SPACE) and received great support from other women that built her confidence, creativity and freedom of expression. She is currently working towards finishing her Masters degree in Illustration. So far, Bryony has designed the logo for The SPACE Group and self-directed a community project on epilepsy awareness; Strange Synapsis, while also showing a strong interest in natural history.
Bonnie Ashton was a loud and confident girl in school and no one could tell her what to do. Yet, she ended up in a 13 year relationship of domestic abuse. In November, she removed herself from the situation, has slowly regained her confidence and is determined to make her children proud. Turning to God and faith in her time of need, Bonnie survived. She is now planning to start a psychology degree to equip herself to help other women and also work with male perpetrators of domestic violence. Bonnie advises: ‘’It isn’t you. You are not weak. You will get through it.”
The majority of Pinky’s life has been spent battling the stigma attached to minority groups. As a person who uses a wheelchair and is queer-non-binary, Pinky campaigns to draw attention to the abilities, not disabilities of individuals.
Pinky volunteers as a model, challenging society’s perception of both a person with disabilities and beauty, within a business where “perfection” is often idealised. Pinky’s ongoing work focuses on challenging negative sexual perceptions and preconceptions of people with disabilities and highlights the simple changes that each of us can make to support integration. Pinky works for the Pride organisation on a UK and European level, ensuring events are as accessible as possible.
In February 2020, Pinky also participated in LGBTQ History Month as a human book, speaking of her experiences as a queer person with a disability. With a mantra “I have a disability, my disability does not have me”, Pinky is wholeheartedly fighting ableism with abilities that are clear to all.
Artist and sculptor, Sophie Ryder, looks into a world of mystical creatures, animals and hybrid beings. Working big is a very significant feature of Sophie’s work, as she enjoys rising to the constructional and creative challenges that flow from this. Sophie believes that trial and error is the only way to learn. Over the years, she has juggled family life, kids and a career. In 1995, she created The Hare and the Minatour which has been a prominent feature on the Cheltenham Promenade for over 20 years. It was only when she started taking part in national and international sculpture exhibitions that she realised that 99% of work was made by men. Sophie continues to create work in a male-dominated world. She is currently working on a 22ft. high sculpture and paving the way for other female artists.
Emma Mawby is just trying to make the world a little more accepting, step by step, day by day. Emma is a woman who arrived late by transition. It was not until her 5o’s she was finally diagnosed with gender dysphoria. She is forever grateful to all the women who quietly and firmly decided to welcome her into the sisterhood as she started her journey; without them she would not be here today.
Emma has become a strong, independent woman who uses her voice and experience to support others. She is deeply involved in diversity and inclusion work in a number of areas in the UK including the LGBT+ Partnership: Cheltenham and Gloucestershire, Gloucestershire Hate Crime, the Crown Prosecution Service South Westand many more.
Danielle Perry has worked for the Gloucestershire Animal Welfare Association and Cheltenham Animal Shelter for over five years. The organisation’s aim is to re-home unwanted and abandoned pets, as well as to educate the public on responsible pet ownership. Danielle is part of the education team and runs many projects including the award-winning HALT Project (Humans and Animals Learning Together) where at-risk youths are paired with a shelter dog for two weeks. The project teaches the students important life skills such as compassion and respect whilst offering the rescue dogs training, enrichment’s and human companionship. Danielle fell in love with the job, getting a sense of fulfilment by seeing the difference she could make to both people and animals’ lives.
The Space Group: St. Paul’s Activity & Community Events
The SPACE Team is comprised of women from the St. Paul’s area who meet regularly at St. Pauls Community Hub, which in 2017 was badly vandalised. The women started programming more events to bring the community together by hosting Easter and summer fairs, a trip to the seaside and much more. They won the CBH Community Impact award last year for their work. The SPACE team has created a support system for the neighbourhood, especially in troubling times.
For instance, when Eileen nearly lost her sight, or when Beth had her baby at 28 weeks, or when Rachel had an epileptic fit. Kelly has experienced domestic abuse, anxiety and depression and has received tremendous support from the hub and even though her and Sam are not members of the SPACE team, they are inspired by the spirit of St Paul’s and love being part of this vibrant community.
Sharron believes that this network of support helps with mental health and the journey into wellness, making the journey more comfortable. The community hub has effectively improved the quality of life in the area for those that use it, as well as built friendships, confidence and an inseparable community.
From left to right:
Sharron Law Hopkins
Eve Jardine-Young trained as a structural engineer before becoming a teacher over 25 years ago. Born and raised in Malawi, Central Africa, she is passionate about improving wider access to education, equality of opportunity for women, holistic wellbeing in personal development, and environmental issues. As the eleventh Principal of Cheltenham Ladies’ College (opened in 1854), she is committed to leading an educational community which is forward looking, inclusive, and service-oriented, inspiring creativity and independence within its pupils. These are values shared by the World Leading Schools’ Association, of which she is Chair. She is honoured to be a Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Gloucestershire and a governor of the Barnwood Trust.
Join the Sisterhood
If you would like to be part of Sisterhood, you can post your portrait and share your story. Using #SisterhoodStory2020 tag us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @TheWilsonChelt