July 29, 2021

UK painter Henny Beaumont gives feminicide victims a face

Streaks of beige or brown watercolor for the cheeks and hair, a stronger line to draw the eyebrows and sketch a smile: one by one, the faces of Susan Baird, Esther Egbon, Deborah Jones or Patrycja Wyrebek appear, then disappear in short videos posted on Twitter since early spring.

“When I have not found photos of the victims, I paint flowers instead”, explains the artist and press illustrator Henny Beaumont, who in March embarked on a project with a strong emotional charge: portray the 118 women – mothers, wives, sisters, daughters or aunts – murdered by men (accused or convicted) in the UK between March 11, 2020 and March 11, 2021.

The shocking death of Sarah Everard

The artist films himself, brush in hand, in time-lapse. “At the end of the video, I unroll the film upside down, even faster, so the face disappears faster than it appears, as a symbol of what happened to them. » This mother of three daughters entertains in her studio, a haven of peace in the back of her garden, in the bustling district of Hackney, north-east London.

Like many other Britons, Henny Beaumont was deeply touched by the disappearance, one evening in early March in the south of the capital, of Sarah Everard, a thirty-something whose body was found a week later a few dozen miles away in Kent.

The death of this young girl shocked and reminded us how much more vulnerable women are than men on the streets. It also aroused enormous media attention, due to the identity of the main suspect – a police officer – but also to the brutal response of the authorities to a rally in memory of the young girl: demonstrators were manhandled by police forces. order.

Just days before the body was found, Labor MP Jess Phillips, long-time involved in the fight against violence against women, read aloud in the House of Commons the list of 118 victims for 2020, pointing out to which point “Murders of women are not extremely rare, they are common”, at the rate of about one every three days for many years.

MP Jess Phillips reads 2020 118 casualty list

“I didn’t know any of the names on this list, remembers Henny Beaumont, I told myself that it was important that we remember them, I wanted to put a face to their names. “ It takes him almost a day to do a portrait, film it and post it online. She has completed 60, hopes to finish before September. “I receive a lot of messages from families, some sometimes send me a photo of their loved one, to inspire me, others ask me for painting. I send it to them, it belongs to them more than to me. “

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