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Thousands of selfies help create mosaic of suffragette

Art installation marks 100 years since women given right to vote Credit: People's Picture

An art installation marking 100 years since women were given the vote has been unveiled at Birmingham New Street station.

The floor-based artwork called "The Face of Suffrage" is made of a mosaic of more than 3,700 images of women from across the West Midlands and the UK.

The collage shows Hilda Burkitt, a leading face from the suffrage movement in the West Midlands.

It was created by artist Helen Marshall, of the People’s Picture, who has installed similar projects across Britain marking other historic occasions.

I really enjoyed creating this piece and I am indebted to the thousands of people who sent in their photos and those who helped me realise my original vision on a giant scale.

The photo is the face of a smiling Edwardian lady, but her story is far from what we might expect.

I spent some time researching women from the West Midlands involved in the fight for the women’s vote. Whilst all women have a daring and brave story to tell, Hilda's was uniquely connected to the station and Birmingham. I felt a connection to the photo because she looks us right in the eye and we are reminded that what we take for granted today happened only yesterday. I hope people will learn something new and be inspired!

– Helen Marshall
A mosaic of more than 3,700 images of women from across the West Midlands and the UK makes up the installation Credit: People's Picture

The railway from Birmingham was important in transporting people to London in support of the movement in the 1900s.

Now 170,000 passengers use Birmingham New Street every day and organisers say it’s large concourse provides an ideal space to host and view the art work.

Karen Hornby, from Network Rail said:

Women from the West Midlands were vital to the suffragette movement and the railway played a key role in helping them travel to London to be part of it.

That’s why Birmingham New Street is the ideal setting for this inspirational piece of art which we are proud to host.

Equality is at the heart of our organisation and supporting women to be part of the exciting rail industry is key to us delivering a safe and reliable railway for passengers.

– Karen Hornby

The woman pictured, Evelyn Hilda Burkitt, was born in Wolverhampton in 1876.

She was the first suffragette to be forcibly fed a total of 292 times and worked at the Birmingham WSPU (Women's Social and Political Union) headquarters, near New Street station.

The then Prime Minister, Herbert Asquith's boarded a train that pulled out of Birmingham New Street and Hilda threw a stone at the train.

She was imprisoned at Winson Green prison.

The artwork will be on display until Friday 14 December – the day which marks the 100th anniversary of women voting for the first time.