Keele SOLACE competition: the winning entries

Written by Lisa Dikomitis

I announced in my previous blog post the two Keele SOLACE winners. In this post our two brand new SOLACE student ambassadors, Frances Gibson and Harriet Howells, give some background around their winning entries. The entries were judged by an interdisciplinary panel to be thought provoking, imaginative as well as extremely cognizant of global health issues.


Frances and Harriet will soon be boarding a Filipino boat, joining the SOLACE team in Northern Samar in the summer of 2018

Frances submitted a painting with poem to the SOLACE competition. Here is what she told me about her entry: ‘I built this painting around the idea of two little girls from entirely polarised, contrasting regions of the world, looking across thousands of miles of land and ocean at one another. Neither can comprehend how different each other’s lives are. I hoped that the innocence of a child, simplicity of their view and understanding of the world would raise ethical and moral questions surrounding inequity in health and around the uneven distribution of wealth and resources. I decided to paint the face of a child to make the piece more tangible and remind us of the very human faces that exist behind the phrase ‘global health’. I collaged world maps onto the background and used them to create the clothing that the girl is wearing. I used bright acrylic colours as I wanted it to be bold and eye-catching and added finer detail using pen, such as for the hair and eyelashes. I wrote a short poem to accompany the painting explaining this idea of the two little girls stood still reaching out to one another across this massive gap; their hands unable to ever quite meet. This gap aims to symbolise and reflect the inequalities that persist in global health.’

Painting Frances Gibson

Painting by Frances Gibbon

This is the text on the painting:


Two little girls are stood facing each other. They are six thousand, nine hundred and seventy-five miles apart, vast stretches of green and blue separating them. Everything is calm and still. They try to reach out to each other but they can’t; a force field of energy stops their hands from ever quite meeting, their fingertips suspended above a gap. This gulf transcends distance, it is generations of poverty and equality. It is the voices of ancestors, it is history. They do not know this yet. They do not understand quite how far apart they are. Still they reach out. All each girl can see is another little girl standing right in front of her. Each can only wonder about the other.

Harriet submitted a painting accompanied by a scholarly essay with the title ‘Inequalities within the reproductive and maternal healthcare across the Philippines’. The essay will be published in the CASIC Working Paper Series.

Painting Harriet Howells

Painting by Harriet Howells

Here is what Harriet told me about her entry:

‘I have worked within Sexual Health and Family Planning offices and clinics at home over the last three years during the university holidays. There are almost 20 clinics set up across my local health board and they are all extremely busy, which led me to wonder how easily these facilities are accessed in other countries, such as the Philippines. Patients have disclosed feelings of worry or dread about attending the clinics. Yet, there is little stigma in attending, particularly in comparison to countries where sexual education is low and religion has a much greater influence. Friends often go together to get contraception and some patients talk freely of their work within the sex trade. We live in a country where these services are free and very readily available and it was fascinating for me to write about the diversities in education, prevalence and opinions of contraception. The left side of my painting represents Britain and the right the Philippines (or left urban and right rural). Everything is stripped back to show the parent and baby are the same on either side. However, one is stood on a road and the other on a field, without this luxury. There are many other differences which I wanted to include in the painting such as “electricity availability, better housing infrastructure and sanitation” but I kept the painting basic to allow the observer to think about what the road allows the left person to have. The baby’s head is a globe to show that this diversity occurs all over the world.’

Congratulations Frances and Harriet! We are looking forward to your contributions to the SOLACE project.