Jann Haworth, who had a key role in the Beatles’ album cover, explains why she’s righting a wrong in a mural that is coming to the UK
It can take a generation to put right a wrong. For the American artist Jann Haworth it has taken half a century to correct a particularly high-profile piece of historical bias.
In 1967, Haworth and her then husband Peter Blake made one of the most famous commercial artworks of the modern age: the cover of the Beatles album Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Among the 65 different people it featured, from Albert Einstein, Fred Astaire and HG Wells to the occultist Aleister Crowley, there were only 12 women and, as Haworth admits, three of those were different images of child star Shirley Temple.
What is more, Haworth, a young female artist at the time, found her own key role in creating the cover was ignored for years.
Now Haworth and her daughter, Liberty Blake, are bringing to Britain a work they started together in 2016 to set straight the record of women’s achievements. Their Work in Progress mural – seven panels, 28ft long and 8ft wide – displays the faces of more than 100 influential women who have either been written out of history or marginalised.
“Really the point of this project is that you will recognise some of the faces, but not others. The feeling of knowing and yet not knowing these women’s full stories is part of the meaning. It makes it distinct and it almost makes you shiver.”
The artist, who collaborated in workshops with volunteers from Salt Lake City, near her home in Utah, to make the artwork, believes it is important this project remains unfinished, a work in progress, because it would impossible to correct centuries of conventional history that have left women out.
“It is also significant that other people contribute, because I know very little about, say, astrophysics and women in other fields. And women’s real value in the world is not just about their place in history books. So the workshop process is almost more important than the outcome,” she said.