University of Brighton Alumni Association

Painting Oxbridge’s first female professor

A Brighton graduate has been commissioned to create a portrait of the first female Oxbridge professor.Painting of Prof

Sara Lavelle was selected by a management committee at The University of Cambridge’s McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research to paint pioneering archaeologist Professor Dorothy Garrod.

The painting, which is on display at the Institute, marks the 80th anniversary of Professor Garrod’s election to the Disney Professorship of Archaeology.

Women have been able to enrol in degrees at The University of Cambridge – and to be full members – since 1948.

Sara, who graduated in Illustration in 2018, was a finalist of Sky Portrait Artist of the Year earlier this year.

Sara given flowersDr James H Barrett, Deputy Director of the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research said the committee were “extremely pleased” with Sara’s painting, which they hope will contribute to Professor Garrod’s “status as a role model for our community”.

Sara said she felt “inspired” by Professor Garrod when she was working on the painting.

“The more I learned about Dorothy Garrod the more I felt compelled to create a painting that adequately captured her strength,” she said. “I have respect for how she pioneered equality in her field through her love and devotion to her work.

“Looking at the portraits of the past celebrating great men, there is clearly a lack of great women portrayed. However, with portraiture being a traditional and academic field, there is also a clear lack of women creating these paintings.

“Being a young female portrait artist, I feel proud to have my work hung alongside the work of celebrated male painters. I hope this further aids the journey towards equality between men and women. To me, the portrait represents not only a personal achievement, but also a positive shift in society.”

More about Sara’s work here:


Nic Ashton • November 19, 2019

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