Part 5 – Assignment 5 – A Women’s World 2021


This assignment actually gave me the opportunity to literally write loads about the reasons that I am campaigning for a transformative Women’s Building!

A Women’s World 2021

A Woman’s World – Mandy Ogunmokun CEO Treasures Foundation

The goal for me was to produce an image with multiple layers. The portrait is of Mandy Ogunmokun who founded Treasures, a supported housing project in East London for women who have experienced trauma and often experienced the Criminal Justice System, helping them turn their lives around. I wanted to make my assignment relevant to my parallel project based around the Holloway Women’s Building, the use of a fingerprint does not just have messages of individuality, but references that an individual entering the prison system would have been arrested and fingerprinted before being ‘processed’.

Mandy Ogunmokun

Everyone’s fingerprint is unique, as is every woman and their personal story. The fingerprint that I have based this image on is not actually Mandy’s, but the symbolism is still there. The message remains that there is a real person behind each fingerprint and a unique story that that, in this case, a woman has to tell. I asked Mandy to send me a picture of herself for the project. Mandy has a particular posture that conveys the strong and empowered nature that she exudes and manifests in her work.

The text its self identifies Mandy and Treasures Foundation alongside the reasons that we ace calling for a truly transformative Women’s Building on the site of the former Holloway Prison. There is a section outlining the reasons why, the evidence, reports, and statistics, the types of abuse and discrimination experienced by women, and the challenges that they face. The legends, statements, words and descriptions are roughly blocked together, but also have randomness about them.

Words are not as immediate as a picture, it takes time to read, understand and digest words, especially if there are a lot of them! Exploring the use of text in this part of the course has pushed me to look at different ways in which words can become the artwork itself. This assignment has evolved from my research and recent experience painting murals.

I purchased an ink pad and did my own fingerprints in my sketchbook to see what sort of impressions I could make selected one that I would base my artwork on. I scanned the fingerprint at 1200dpi so that it would enlarge comprehensively in focus and blended the two images in photoshop as a sketch.

Original fingerprint
Digital composition

This project was quite epic in the end! From a simple idea and a fairly quick digital sketch, the actual execution of the artwork took a full 7 days! I had to order a projector so that I could project the elements of the image onto the wall. I had some large paper leftover from Part 1 and affixed it to the wall with commando strips. I then set up the computer, projector, and iPad (for streaming TV and radio!) on the bed and mapped out the fingerprint onto the paper lightly in pencil. Next in a different colour I wrote in all the words that spoke about the plight of women and Mandy’s personal story in the printed ridges of the fingerprint.

Working set-up

Finally, I projected the image of Mandy onto the fingerprint, and most time-consuming was painting in all the letters in the appropriate tone to convey the image of the face. I started in Acrylic, but the paint was too thick and dragged. I then paid a quick visit to Cass Arts and purchased some ‘Golden’ liquid Acrylic (Has a rich black and slightly shiny finish that can reflect light and make the black appear lighter) and some ‘Liquitex’ Acrylic-Gouache. (The black is a little grey in comparison to the Golden Acrylic as it has a more matte finish). I mixed up 7 shades of grey in pots so that they would remain wet, I had to spray them with water frequently and work with the window shutters closed so that I has consistent lighting. I could see the tonal range in rough areas, however, when I needed to paint detail, I had to turn the light off to see the projection properly.

Final review image

There are probably spelling mistakes, and sometimes I had to re-paint a letter if it was in the wrong tone. I killed two brushes; a number 2 and 3 Pro-Arte synthetic brushes despite cleaning them carefully throughout! I decided not to worry about some of the slightly jagged edges to the letters, as fingerprints are in their nature not printed perfectly, however, I paint out any extraneous marks that raised from resting my hand on a wet letter.

I was interested in producing a work that included strong and multiple messages, was layered, and has a subtle quality about it. It was designed to work from a distance or viewed small in order to see the face, and also close, in a more abstract way, when studying the detail. This is something that I usually find a bit challenging, but one I was willing to embrace. In the working of the piece I had a negative line across the page deliniating the tip and body of the fingerprint. When reviewing the image, I liked the cut in the image on one hand, however, on the other hand, I found that it was really drawing my eye and on balance I found it distracting, I realised that it was far less pronounced in the actual print so added a sentence to fill the space and define the face better. This may or not be considered a mistake, but I am living with it!

A Woman’s World – Mandy Ogunmokun – Detail

Naming the piece

In my head I refer to this image as ‘Fingerprint’, it is logical and descriptive title. It could also have a suffix; ‘Fingerprint – Mandy Ogunmokun’ or ‘Fingerprint – What’s your story?’.

Other titles could be:

Impressions – Reflecting the nature of the image and nature of the impression that the viewer gets from the piece.

Identity – Looking at the individual identity of a strong powerful woman.

What’s your story? – This is a real door opener into doing a series of works depicting other strong women.

A Women’s World 2021 – An overarching title that references the challenges still faced by women in 2021


Niki Gibbs

12 November 2021

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