Back in March we were given a Bootcamp assignment on the Suffragettes. While researching the project I discovered so much I didn't already know about these brave and remarkable women. I had no idea of just how much they suffered in the name of votes for women. Many of them went on hunger strikes while they were in prison and were brutally force fed with tubes being stuck down their throats or even up their nostrils while being physically restrained. The abuse they experienced effected their physical health for the rest of their lives. It is truly humbling to consider the sacrifices these women made for the benefit of all women in Western civilisations today. While there were many of these extraordinary women who made up the Suffragette movement, I particularly researched a leading figure: Emmeline Pankhurst who in their desperation to be heard, encouraged militant tactics. She founded the all women political organisation the WSPU (Womens Social and Political Union) in 1905 whose slogan was 'deeds not words'. Against much criticism, she encouraged her members to use extreme measures such as arson. She died in 1928, just weeks before the vote for all women aged over 21 was granted on 2nd July. A memorial of her can be found near the houses of parliament.
So for Bootcamp this month our mini assignment is all about tea. Yup, anything and everything and if you love tea like me then that equals quite a lot of fun. Since I love history too I have been digging around and discovered that tea was actually bought to England in about 1662 by Queen Catherine of Braganza, the wife of Kind Charles II. It was initially extremely expensive and so only the elite classes could afford it but as time went by it became more affordable and therefore accessible to ordinary people. The little poem around the top of the painting that I've written reads: 'Queen Catherine of Braganza was rather partial to her tea. She said it kept her calm and restored her sanity. The King did, the Queen did and then the Court did too. Until the whole of England enjoyed a daily brew'.
Virginia Woolf the great lover of words and considered a prominent author in modernist writing during the 20th Century. She's attributed to being one of the pioneers in the narrative mode of writing known as 'Stream of Consciousness', a style we're quite used to reading in today but utterly groundbreaking at the turn of the 20th Century.
There is a nod in the background of my portrait to Bloomsbury, a group of intellectuals and artists of which Virginia was a key member. I am just embarking upon reading the beautiful Penguin Clothbound edition of 'Orlando', written in 1928 and one of her lighter novels intended as a portrait of her enigmatic lover Vita Sackville West.
Sadly, Woolf suffered with mental illness throughout her life and committed suicide in 1941 at the age of just 59. But she lives on inspiring others through her brilliant works which have been translated into over 50 languages.