Catherine Yass has created a series of four unique portraits for the Supreme Court, the highest court in the United Kingdom.
Commissioned by The First 100 Years, a charity charting the journey of women working in law, this is the first artwork to be displayed at the institution that features women from the legal profession. Yass has depicted legal pioneers Baroness Hale, first woman president of the Supreme Court; Rose Heilbron, the first woman judge; and Cornelia Sorabji, the first woman to sit the Bachelor of Civil Laws exam at Oxford University and to practise law in India. The artist also looks ahead to the next 100 years, offering a representation of a female lawyer of the future. Created to commemorate the centenary of the 1919 Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act, which paved the way for women to practise law, these works will form the centrepiece of courtroom two, where the first majority-female court – three out of five justices – sat in October 2018.
Combining archival photographic images with her own photography, Yass’ portraits will be seen by the 90,000 visitors who come to the Supreme Court each year, many of whom are children and young people making educational visits.
Yass was selected for the commission through a competitive process, judged by a panel that included Baroness Hale; Mark Ormerod, chief executive of the Supreme Court; and Dana Denis-Smith and David Standish from Spark 21, the charity behind the First 100 Years project. The Contemporary Art Society acted as advisers to the judging panel.