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Thank You Shirley Williams - Plasticine Role Model

I created this the other day. I used modelling clay (similar to Plasticine), pipe cleaners, wooden spoons, lolly sticks, bendy wire and wrapping paper.

I was at an event for women arts practitioners and such like.

In the warm up session we were asked to pick a woman who we admired and/or inspired us. My first choice was my daughter, Katherine, who is a brilliant musician, dancer and linguist, and experimental cook. She runs her own arts agency, Kaia Arts.

My second choice for inspirational woman was Baroness Williams of Crosby, otherwise known as Shirley Williams, LibDem Peer, ex Gang of Four, daughter of the feminist and pacifist writer Vera Brittain, and probably the best Labour Party leader we never had, or so I used to think in the days when I cared about such matters.

Baroness Shirley was once told by some bloke that she would never get far in politics because she was too disorganised. As if all 'successful' chaps do their own laundry, buy their own knickers, cook their own breakfast, clean the toilet, hoover the stairs, remember birthdays, buy the cake/candles, book the magician, fill the party bags, clean up afterwards, take the kids to school/dentist/shoe-shop/gym class/etc/etc, do Open University degrees...

Throughout her career Shirley was continually subjected to criticism about her hair. Her hair!!

Whenever I hear Shirley Williams on radio, or see her on TV (less often), I'm always impressed. She's bright, well informed, polite, insightful and often drolly and dryly funny.

What strikes me most, however, is that she is always affirming and supportive towards other women, espcially young women. I heard her say, in a radio interview, that lack of self confdence was mostly what held women back.

In the model I tried to convey a strong, grounded woman.

I gave her three sets of arms made from wooden spoons, to represent givingness. The hair is made from bits of curled bendy wire. Atop her head are two gold bottle tops, like a crown.

The solidity of the body contrasts with the flimsy, randomness of the hair. Her round face and breasts are made from soft fluffy pipe cleaners.

Crinkly green tissue paper, reinforced by bendy wire, forms an umbrella or parachute-like backdrop. Two lolly sticks act like skis, sideways on, to give her extra stability.

Posted by Deborah Caulfield, 23 February 2014

Last modified by Deborah Caulfield, 27 February 2014