University celebrates pioneering female scientist and local artist

A portrait of Professor Florence Annie Mockeridge, who was a key University figure from 1922-1954, has been unveiled on the Singleton Campus by Senior Pro-Vice-Chancellor Professor Hilary Lappin-Scott.

The portrait was painted by local portrait and mural artist Kenneth William Hancock, who was awarded Associateship of the Royal College of Art in 1933 after attending Swansea School of Art.

The painting has been taken out of storage and is now on public display outside the Wallace Lecture Theatre.  The unveiling ceremony was attended by University staff and guests. 

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Picture:  At the unveiling are Professor Hilary Lappin-Scott (l) and Lowri Cook, daughter of the artist who painted the portrait: Kenneth Hancock

Professor Mockeridge joined what was then the University College of Swansea as head of the Biology department. She remained here until her retirement 32 years later, and oversaw significant change and development. She built up the reputation of the honours degree in botany, directed the work of a succession of research students and strived to deliver outstanding teaching, despite having inadequate facilities.

Florence’s excellence and leadership was recognised in her holding the position of Dean of the Faculty of Science from 1933–1935 and again during 1941-43. She was elected the first professor of botany in the University in 1936, and held the position of Vice-Principal of the University College from 1949-51. She was also Treasurer of the Students’ Representative Council for many years.

Professor Mockeridge had a clear vision for the future of the biology department, and was determined to establish separate botany and zoology departments. She pressed for many years, and it became evident that only a new building would make this possible. So that’s what Florence made happen.

She was heavily involved in the planning and design stages of the new natural sciences building, taking great care to ensure that it was fit for modern scientific discovery and education. Florence’s vision became bricks and mortar when the Wallace building opened shortly after her retirement. Today, its students can still compete for the Florence Mockeridge Prize in Botany.

Lowri Cook, daughter of artist Kenneth Hancock, attended the unveiling ceremony and said:

“I couldn’t be more delighted to be here and see my father’s work honoured and cherished by Swansea University. Made all the sweeter by the link with the incredible Florence Mockeridge Fellowship Group!”

Pro-Vice-Chancellor Professor Hilary Lappin-Scott said:

“Today we mark and remember a truly remarkable and inspirational figure through a special portrait painted by Kenneth Hancock. She is one of the ladies that shaped the future for people like us and for that we are tremendously grateful.”

Ellie Dawkins of the Glynn Vivian Art Gallery added:

“This is truly one of the most beautiful examples of Ken Hancock’s work we have ever seen. What an amazing event to honour a brilliant artist and a woman of substance”.

The event coincided with the launch of the 2019 Florence Mockeridge Fellowship Group – an elite cohort of academic staff that receives intensive training on applying for prestigious fellowship research funding that is run by the University’s Research, Engagement and Innovation Services.

Find out more about Swansea University College of Science