Friday, July 24, 2009

Suffragette women

At Artistic Journey we are onto our 4th week class on a book on suffragette women, and I thought I would share with you on our progress. Am loving teaching this, in the beginning there was several students not to keen on the subject but I am thinking that they are now enjoying learning about these women who fought for the rights to vote of women. It amazes me how much information the girls are coming up with on the internet, its a mind field out there.

This first page was to highlight the actions taken by these brave women, we fashioned a copy of the Holloway brooch designed by Sylvia Pankhurst from the well known Pankhurst family. The Portcullis was the symbol of the House of Commons. The arrow in the centre was purple, white and green signifying freedom and dignity, purity and hope. This is placed in an aged tin with dark green fabric with white arrows which was the fabric they made the prison garments from, and the metal wire the bars of the prison cell. This brooch was awarded to the women who served in the Holloway prison on their release. The women chained themselves to railings in protest, held protest meetings, broke windows and for these crimes they where imprisoned. Inside their cells the suffragettes went on hunger strikes, to which their husbands complained in parliament where some of them where members, to seen to be not totalling misunderstanding they ordered that the suffragettes be released, force fed and thrown back in jail, hence the Cat and Mouse act was coined. A medal was awarded to the suffragettes who went on hunger strikes as well as the Holloway brooch. Would we as women be as prepared to go to such lengths today to gain what we think as a right, but we come from the generations who benefited by their actions and have been made stronger through them, it does make you think.

The second page is on the Rebels in Petticoats using some rusted fabric. Women where considered on a level with children, drunkards and lunatics. When they took their cause out into the streets they where labelled Rebels in Petticoats. Does anyone wear a petticoat nowadays, hmmm. There where many cartoons published to denigrate the suffragettes. The rusted angel is one I got from here http://www.redvelvetcreations.blogspot.com/ and easy way to rust your fabric is wet or wash your fabric (I used calico) sprinkle over some white vinegar, spread fabric out and wrap some old rusty items (I used nuts, bolts, nail, screws etc)around into a firm handful so fabric is touching the rusted pieces, then place out in the fresh air for several days, spritzing with water to keep moist. I did this piece at a retreat and placed it screwed up into a plastic bag where it was left for several weeks. You should wash it well to stop the rusting effect if you don't want holes in your fabric.

Week three was on the suffragette movement on your country of origin, as mine was New Zealand, the portrait is of Kate Sheppard who was the leader of the movement in New Zealand WCTU womens christian temperance union. NZ become the first country to gain votes for women, this was accidental, Richard Seddon the then prime minister appointed a council of 12 men, half of which where known opposed to women getting the vote, he tried to influence one of the members to change his vote, this had the opposite result with two members voting against his vote and the bill was passed in parliament. Some members of the council tried to influence the Governor General Lord Glasgow not to sign the bill. The suffragettes on finding out what was going on moved into action and sent all the members of parliament who had supported women's suffrage white camellias and those who did not support where sent red camellias. The Governor General passed the bill. This information can be found herehttp://www.nsine.con.nz/features/suffrage2.html across the front of this portrait was an image of a scene taken at a suffragette protest, this is sandwiched between mica, hinged with vintage fabric. behind a watch glass is an image of a proud Maori women, NZ was also the first country to give indigenous women the vote. The NZ suffragette WCTU was formed in 1885 and the vote passed in 1893. It was thought that NZ got the vote first was early settlers where from the UK ie English, Scots and Irish, they had little legal recognition, worked hard helping their husbands settle farms and businesses and coping with extreme hardships, they felt they deserved equal recognition as their male counterparts. They also where receiving a good education with Kate Edger being the first female to gain a bachelor of Arts degree in the British Empire. Gee I am learning so much, I find a thirst for learning of those that went before me.

This weeks class is on the Pankhurst Family, Mother Emmeline Pankhurst the founder of WSPU womens social political union in the UK, who died in 1928 shortly before the UK women got the vote. Her daughters Sylvia and Christabel. Many of these women suffragettes travelled to other countries to support their efforts.

And next week will be the students family member who was a suffragette (as Donna Daniel has discovered since we started) or a family member who lived in that era as my Great Grandmother Howchow was, she arrived by boat in 1884 at 26 years of age, I think that was pretty courageous to come from the UK so many miles away, she married a Chinese man, very uncommon in those days. I do not think she would have been involved in the suffragette movement as she was married in 1885 and had three small children by the time the vote was gained but I am sure she was aware of what was going on at the time and would have supported their efforts. That will leave the front and back covers, I have used a lot of techniques learnt at workshops with Nina Bagley in Cortona, Italy and here in Australia. Her unique style in making journals was my dream to learn. Look on her blog http://www.ornamental.typepad.com/ to see more of her lovely journals.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

these look fantastic, a very interesting subject for a journal, we owe those women a lot, don't we.
Phillipa.

Queen Of Toys said...

Gosh it really is turn the page, look, turn the page, wow what an incredible book.

Hugs Elizabeth

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