I set myself the task of making a series of images that would sit within the format of a non-fiction picture book on The Suffragettes. This is a subject as well as a time period that I have always been intrigued by but have never properly investigated. The project has been very research heavy and has been a lot about educating myself. I love taking a subject that is heavy and hard to get your head around and making it accessible to a new audience through illustration. Previous projects I have undertaken at University have been much more light-hearted, but perhaps not as personally rewarding.
Reading into the story of The Suffragette movement, it shocked me finding out how much I didn’t know about the women who fought for voting equality in this country. Of course the most notorious event that The Suffragettes are linked to is the Epsom Derby incident of June 1913 when Emily Wilding Davison stepped out in front of the kings horse, fatally wounding herself. But there’s more to these women than the surface level stories we are all told.
Led by the figurehead of the movement Emmeline Pankhurst and adopting the slogan “Deeds Not Words”, The Suffragettes defied everything that was expected of women of the time and broke all the rules. Years of being oppressed by the figures of power in the country transformed mothers, daughters and wives into hooligans, terrorists, hunger strikers and arsonists.
They learnt martial arts in self defence against the police, hid bombs in household objects, vandalised politician’s property and even released their own board game to name but a few of their schemes. The thing that the Suffragettes were best at however was exploiting media coverage in newspapers which was what eventually made them so nationally notorious. It had become impossible to ignore the voices of the women who had been oppressed for so long. 100 years on from The Representation of The People Act, we owe it to these women to take a moment to think about their actions and the sacrifices they made.
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