UCL Grand Challenges


Appearance: a video artwork addressing judicial gender and diversity

Creating artwork exploring relations between law, women, and representation.

1 September 2021


Grant: Grand Challenges Small Grants
Year awarded: 2021-22
Amount awarded: £4,990


  • Carey Young, Slade School of Art
  • Prof Cheryl Thomas, Faculty of Laws

To support the creation of ‘Appearance’, a video artwork exploring relations between law, women and visuality. Young will create a ‘video portrait’ of 20 diverse female judges, filmed to refer to historical artworks. Contradicting the public image of judges as older white men, the invited judges would be women of varied ethnicities and ages, revealing such diversity as central to the judiciary’s future.

Young will be supported by Professor Thomas’ research and knowledge of the judiciary to develop the work, including logistics and practicalities for its realisation. ‘Appearance’ directly relates to Thomas’ research, providing vital perspective on public attitudes about judges, and increasing interdisciplinary and cultural perspective of UCL’s Judicial Institute. Modern Art Oxford, a contemporary art gallery, will display 'Appearance' as part of a wider exhibition in 2023.

The project aims to: 

  • Generate public debate and new understandings of the judiciary in order to try and dispel the widespread idea that judges are privileged older white men.
  • Enable new public discussions around law – what is it, who does it represent, and who feels unrepresented – and how should law change?
  • Create new public understandings of who can and should be a judge.
  • Inspire young people to think creatively about law, judges and the legal system and their responses to it.
  • Facilitate new discussions amongst the judiciary around judicial identity.
  • Demonstrate art’s potential to enable new insights into law.

Outputs and Impact

  • Awaiting outputs and impacts.