Sylvia Pankhurst (2018)
Oil on Canvas
40 x 40″
Sylvia Pankhurst was the daughter of Emmeline Pankhurst, founder of the British militant group, the Womens Social and Political Union (WSPU) – better known as the Suffragettes. The term ‘Suffrage’ means the right to vote. The suffrage movement began as a peaceful campaign in Britian in 1897, but progress was very slow. By 1903, women in Britian decided they would use whatever means possible to achieve the same rights as men. Even if that meant damaging property and sacrificing their lives. Their motto was “Deeds, not words”.
Sylvia organised spectacular demonstrations, rallies and marches all over Britain publicising the WSPU and trying to persuade the Government to give women the vote. She addressed huge audiences, and even lectured on woman’s suffrage in the United States in 1911. She was also imprisoned several times, beaten and force-fed.
However, she disagreed with her mother and sister Christabel on the use of violence. She felt that tactics such as setting fire to buildings, destroying golf courses, smashing windows of shops and politicians’ homes, and destroying works of art was wrong. She broke away from the WSPU and set up the East London Federation of Suffragettes, a new campaigning group in the East End of London built on her own principles and which men were welcome to join. Another reason she split with the group was that she wanted to help the working classes achieve equality, not just the wealthy women like her family. She used her art to draw attention to the plight of these struggling workers, touring England making beautiful paintings and drawings of them.
As a result, she was shunned by her family, and they never spoke to her again. She continued her work, travelling the world. She ended her days in Eithiopia, where she had undertaken many major social and political projects, and established the first teaching hospital. She died a hero in the African country, a friend to Emperor Hailie Selassie. She committed her entire life to helping others, to promoting peaceful politics, and campaigning for better conditions for all people.
8% of the profits of this sale will be donated to https://womensfoundca.org
The Women’s Foundation of California is a statewide, publicly supported foundation dedicated to achieving gender, racial, and economic justice by centering the experience and expertise of communities most impacted by systemic injustice.