The exhibition is a celebration of Black British academics and has been brought to the public in a unique free outdoor exhibition presented by London’s Southbank Centre 

THE UK’s largest arts centre has recognised the work of one of Huddersfield’s most successful Black female professors in an outdoor exhibition entitled Phenomenal Women: Portraits of UK Black Female Professors. 

Commissioned and curated by Dr Nicola Rollock and photographed by Bill Knight, the collection features portraits of 45 professors, including the University of Huddersfield’s Professor Adele Jones (pictured above), Director of the University’s None In Three (Ni3) global research centre. 

Ni3 is dedicated to changing the stark reality that, at some point in their lifetime, one in three women and girls will be subjected to physical or sexual violence. By using research to develop and evaluate computer games as educational tools for violence prevention, the Centre is working towards ending gender-based violence by reducing the number of women and girls subjected to such atrocities to become ‘none in three’ and is how the Centre obtained its name. 

"It is a deeply humbling experience to be counted among a group of such incredible black women; I look very serious (and a little too ferocious, I feel) but forgetting the portrait, it is the word on the wall behind me - 'PEACE', that conveys the real message of my work." 

Adele Jones, Professor of Social Work 

The exhibition officially launched on the 10 October and can be viewed until the 8 November.  The collection has been timed to coincide with Black History Month and is presented along the Southbank Centre’s very popular public riverside promenade The Queen’s Walk.

The coronavirus pandemic forced a rethinking of the exhibition which was due to open at the Queen Elizabeth Hall foyer at the Southbank Centre. It will now have a much more prominent public platform giving many more people the opportunity to ‘stumble’ across these portraits and to learn about the racial inequality within British academia. 

Fewer than 1% of professors in the UK are Black despite increases in overall levels of academic staff. Black women represent the smallest group when both race and gender are considered. They are three times less likely to become professors than their White female counterparts and half as likely as Black men. 

There are a total of 19,285 professors in UK universities according to a 2019 report by AdvanceHE. Of this figure 12,795 are White males, 4,560 are White women, with just 90 Black men and 35 Black women accounting for the remainder. 

These stunning portraits and the respective professors’ biographies are now being presented outdoors, in a series of weatherproof structures that are specially designed with social distancing guidelines in mind. 

“I am thrilled to be working with the Southbank Centre on this exhibition. As one of London's leading arts' venues, it is a fitting space in which to help draw attention to just how few Black female professors there are in the UK and to highlight their achievements.” 

Exhibition curator Dr Nicola Rollock 

Phenomenal Women: Portraits of UK Black Female Professors aims to highlight the presence and excellence of all the women included and provide a platform for debate about what it takes to reach this highest level of academic scholarship. 

The portraits were taken by photographer Bill Knight, who travelled across England, Scotland and Wales to capture the images.

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