An embroidered portrait of a woman seated on a grey sofa, with her arms crossed in her lap.
Sarah Bracken Soper, Trailblazer, 2020. © Sarah Bracken Soper.Credit

Sarah Bracken Soper | Highly Commended

Trailblazer, 2020

Embroidery, 70 x 50 cm

This work is the second in a series of embroidered portraits of powerful Irish women, using a medium once associated with keeping women busy in the home. Trailblazer depicts the Irish academic, feminist and LGBTQI+ activist Ailbhe Smyth. She was founding Head of Women’s Studies at UCD, and played a leadership role in the Marriage Equality referendum campaign in 2015. In 2018, she was co-director of Together for Yes - the National Civil Society Campaign to remove the Eighth Amendment from the Constitution. Sarah Bracken Soper met Ailbhe Smyth at her home in January 2020 and took some photos of her to work from. Little did she know that the portrait would be created during a global pandemic, while she worked remotely with her one-year-old son. The artist didn't think she would get it finished in time, but Ailbhe Smyth had inspired her to do just that.


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