Sylvia Pankhurst, self-portrait in prison dress - c. 1907 - pastel and charcoal.

Sylvia Pankhurst, self-portrait in prison dress – c. 1907 – pastel and charcoal.


From the 16th of September 2013 to the 23rd of  March 2014 – Tate Britain

Sylvia Pankhurst (1882–1960) made a profound impact on the fight for women’s rights as both an artist and a campaigner. Trained at the Manchester Municipal School of Art and the Royal College of Art, she was a key figure in the work of the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) set up with her mother Emmeline and sister Christabel in 1903, using her artistic skills to further the cause.

Pankhurst’s lifelong interest was in the rights of working women. In 1907 she spent several months touring industrial communities documenting the working and living conditions of women workers. Her combination of artworks with written accounts provided a vivid picture of the lives of women workers and made a powerful argument for improvement in working conditions and pay equality with men.

Sylvia Pankhurst, Old Fashioned Pottery: Transferring the Pattern onto the Biscuit 1907 - Gouache on paper - House of Commons

Sylvia Pankhurst, Old Fashioned Pottery: Transferring the Pattern onto the Biscuit 1907 – Gouache on paper – House of Commons


I
n 1907 Sylvia Pankhurst toured northern England and Scotland to document the lives of women workers. Living in the communities she studied, she painted and wrote about industrial processes and the women who performed them. Working in gouache, which she found ideal for working quickly under factory conditions, her studies of women at work were unusual for the time in their unsentimental observation and their focus on individual workers.

Tate Britain