Women Empowering Women Through Art and Conversation

“Women are powerful. Women are beautiful and strong. Women are wild, raw and resourceful. We must join together, and we must use our strength and resources to overcome.”

Meet Alice Sinclair and Sophie Gradden, the women empowering other women through an evening of art and conversation on 19th June. Alice, a member of The Circle, and Sophie, a UK-based artist are putting on an incredible event to raise funds for the Nonceba Family Counselling Centre. During the art class, which begins at 6.30pm, you will be able to select a favourite female icon to paint with the aim “go wild on canvas”! As well as having creative fun, you will be connecting with like-minded women and learning more about The Circle’s projects.

This a perfect example of how when women come together and organise, they can be a powerful force for change. We sat down and spoke to them about The Circle, fundraising and feminism …


Photo credit: Fiona Freund

Alice Sinclair works in the healthcare sector and is a member of The Circle.

Tell us a bit about yourself:

I have been based in London for 12 years. I work in the healthcare sector as an NLP therapist and a trainee Psychotherapist. I am also the editor of a local magazine. I have witnessed and experienced gender inequality in many forms throughout my life. I still see it everyday, and with my work as a therapist I see the impacts. Ending violence against women is my passion. It is it very close to my heart (near the cat section). I long for a world one day where the inhabitants are like WTF is inequality? Did that actually exist?

Why did you decide to organise this fundraising event?

This event is the beginning of many. Nothing feels more close to my heart than actively supporting and holding a platform for women to come together and work towards making a difference in the murky environment of gender based inequality. Sophie Gradden is a hoot to hang around with, it will be a memorable evening.

Why do you think the work of Nonceba Family Counselling centre is so important?

As a trainee therapist most of my NHS work has been with women who have experienced violence or abuse in its many guises. It tears you down. It whittles away confidence. The trauma can have a horrifying impact on how you live your life. Abuse can lead to very serious situations such as PTSD, agoraphobia, eating disorders, addictions, self harm and suicide. These can be passed down through generations. Wonderful charities like Nonceba are a vital refuge. They provide hope, and a way forward. For a year they will protect and physically and mentally support victims of domestic abuse. Nonceba gives women a way out. It breaks that generational passing. It de-normalises.

What does Women Empowering Women mean to you?

When I was ten years old, a teacher discovered I could bowl a cricket ball better than the boys in my class. I was invited to play on the boys team as there was no team for girls. As I ran up to bowl the first ball of my first match, both teams jeered. “she’s wearing a skirt” or “get lost you’re a girl”. I crumbled. That was to be my first and last match with that team.

This was my first experience of gender based inequality. My first experience of gender based violence was when I was eight, I am less inclined to discuss this freely. The point I am getting at is, women are powerful. Women are beautiful and strong. Women are wild, raw and resourceful. We must join together, and we must use our strength and resources to overcome every single face and aspect of discrimination, sexism, misogyny and abuse. Women need women.

Sophie Gradden is an artist living and working in the UK and we’re incredibly excited to have her working with The Circle for this event!

Tell us a little bit about yourself:

I am a contemporary artist, temporarily living & working in Buckinghamshire. I’ve not always been an artist mind, but always dabbled in the creative industries of furniture & interior design.

In November 2016 I reignited my love for painting and set up a makeshift studio in my home and began creating, whilst working full time. Since then, the art continues. In April 2018 I had a total mental meltdown, suffering with depression and anxiety, I made the decision to take a break, a life sabbatical as I like to label it, and dedicate myself to my art full time, no more 9-5, just painting, painting, painting. Best thing I’ve ever f**king done.

Why did you decide to organise this fundraising event?

Why would we not? Any group of people gathering together to try and do better in this world, no matter how big or small the overall impact it may have…it’s something right! The more we do it, the more we talk about it, the more people will start to realize that these sometimes minute or minor situations to the absolute horrendous (even unimaginable) us wonderful women find ourselves put into is NOT ok!! Things have got to change. This I hope is a small yet mighty step towards that.

Why do you think the work of Nonceba Family Counselling centre is so important?

We must remember even though we are still fighting for gender equality and ending violence against women here in the UK, some countries sadly are still 10 steps behind us, which is frightening. The woman I am and the women I surround myself with, friends, family, colleagues, have all come up against gender equality issues, thankfully never violence, however I speak for a mere spec of the population, in fact the world. Even bigger problem!! What about the women who don’t have a choice and the support, someone to be there for them when the world has unfairly shunned them and continues to kick them, sometimes quite literally, when they are down, Nonceba is that answer. Nonceba is a positive way forward, one of many great projects that the circle supports.

What does Women Empowering Women mean to you?

Simple…My mum, my sister, my nan (sadly no longer with us) my sister in law, my best friend, my friends, my past colleagues…the amazing woman who I didn’t know, who reached out and held my hand on the train, when I was in a state of emotional anxiety, we didn’t even speak, we only exchanged a smile as she handed me a tissue. You saved me in that moment. Thank you.

Book your place for An Evening of Art and Conversation here. We’ll see you there!

#GlobalFeminism #WomenEmpoweringWomen


Feminist Calendar: November and December

Photo credit: She’s Beautiful when She’s Angry, 2014.

Looking to be inspired in the run-up to Christmas? The Circle volunteer Jessi Wells has got it covered with this bi-monthly roundup of feminist events

5 November — TEDxUCLWomen 2017 (London)

TEDxUCLWomen is a movement celebrating women’s achievements and critiquing barriers to further change. This year’s theme is Home, encompassing notions of community, belonging, race, class, familiarity and discomfort. An incredible line-up of speakers will challenge participants’ perceptions and enrich their thinking around the theme.

9 November — The Space Between Us: Female poets on time, place and identity (Oxford)

At this event, curated by Poet in the City, contemporary female poets will draw on the past to explore their own modern identities and sense of belonging. Inspired by the venue — St Hugh’s College, whose first principal felt she slipped back in time when visiting Versailles — Victoria Adukwei Bulley and Patience Agbabi will explore stories from across time and space, reflecting on their own work and that of the female poets who preceded them.

16 November — Sara Ahmed and Everyday Feminism (Manchester)

Sara Ahmed’s celebrated new book, Living a Feminist Life, reveals how feminist theory is generated from ordinary experiences at home and at work — from everyday feminism. On 16 November, Ahmed will be in conversation with host Muzna Rahman. She will read and discuss extracts of her work, with a focus on intersectionality and queer and race studies; this will be followed by an audience Q&A and a drinks reception.

18 November — Feminist Futures Conference (London)

The Fawcett Society is the UK’s leading charity promoting gender equality and women’s rights. Join them on 18 November for their annual conference, a day of networking, panel discussions and interactive workshops. Hear from inspiring feminists including broadcaster June Sarpong and feminist writer Caroline Criado-Perez.

24 November — Amazons and Women Warriors: visual talk by Max Dashú (London)

This live visual presentation at The Feminist Library will illuminate the hidden realities of women warriors. From the Qyrk Qyz (Forty Maidens) of Central Asia to the female general Trung Trac in Vietnam, historian Max Dashú will place the women of Amazon legend into historical global perspective.

25 November — Chai Day (nationwide)

25 November is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. Events will be taking place around the world raise to awareness of the issue: globally, 1 in 3 women experience violence in their lifetime, and in some countries this rises to 7 in 10. The Circle will be playing its part by hosting Chai Day, a chance for friends and colleagues to get together over a cup of tea, to discuss and raise funds for a good cause.

1 December — Peggy Seeger ‘First Time Ever’ UK Concert Tour (Wigan)

American folksinger Peggy Seeger is a feminist icon, “an activist, an advocate, a mover-and-shaker”. At the age of 82, she’s taking to the road this winter to promote her recently published memoir and accompanying CD. She’ll be performing hits from a career spanning six decades, interspersing her songs with readings from her book. It will be an unforgettable night!

6 December — Community Film Festival, Swindon Feminist Network (Swindon)

Over the past year, as part of the Swindon200 project, community groups and charities have been working together to produce a series of short films on the topic of equality and inclusion. The films will be screened for the first time at the Community Film Festival, which will run from 14 November to 12 December. Come along on 6 December to watch the Swindon Feminist Network’s new film, and to find out more about the issues that affect women.

10-16 Deceber — FiLiArt: Refuge (London)

FiLiArt’s theme this year is refuge, both literal and metaphorical: they will be working with at-risk women and girls, and creating a safe haven through art. Visit their exhibition at Oxford House to see creations by thirty women artists working in all different media, from sculpture to photography and everything in between.