As part of their commission for Out of the Archives, the artists Olivia Plender and Hester Reeve are looking at the troubled, turbulent and sometimes contradictory relationship between suffragettes and art.
Specifically, the Out of the Archivers will be looking at suffragettes like Sylvia Pankhurst, Mary Richardson and Barbara Leigh Smith who were trained artists, but who waged militant attacks on famous works of art.
The relationship between art and political campaigning was explored quite significantly in The Women’s Library’s 2003 exhibition Art for Votes’ Sake, in which enamels by Ernestine Mills and drawings by Sylvia Pankhurst were displayed alongside modern, experimental posters and photo-journalism.
However, here at the library we also hold the artworks of several other artists campaigners, including Josephine Butler, who’s image can be seen above.
Josephine Butler was a anti-prostitution campaigner as well as a keen watercolour painter, whose collection came to the library in 1957, one of the first entire personal archives to do so.