Yoga lesson

Adrienne

This is of Youtube yoga teacher Adriene! I’ve been practising along with her videos for years now (and you can too if you click here!)

Yoga is a valuable part of my life; after a long day hunching over my desk (I sit in some seriously awkward positions) I love having something that gets me moving, increases my strength and gives me a wonderful stretch out!

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Shoreditch Paintings

Emmy

The image above is of my good friend Emmy. We went on a trip to Shoreditch in London when it was FREEZING cold near the start of this year. I really love to work from photos I’ve taken, I think the memories associated with the photograph come through in the painting (or perhaps that’s just me!)

The illustration below is from the same trip, of the Gherkin taken on a misty morning.

London

Figure 22: Laxmi Agarwal

Laxmi.pngLaxmi was fifteen when she was attacked with acid on the way to a music lesson. She had rejected a marriage proposal, and the 32 year old man stalked her and attacked her for this decision. This is a similar story to many other victims of acid attacks in India, where acid was readily available and cheaper than milk.

But Laxmi doesn’t want you to call her a victim. Laxmi is an individual, who knows that her worth is not just skin deep.

“Today I love my face because I realized your face is not the only important thing. I didn’t give importance to my face. I gave importance to my work.”
In 2013, Laxmi brought a petition with 27,000 signatures to the Supreme Court, protesting how readily available acid was. This led to legislation which restricted the sale of acid, as well as providing help and compensation to survivors. She received the International Woman of Courage Award from Michelle Obama, delivered a Ted Talk, and is now a TV host. This is all in addition to her campaigning for Stop Acid Attacks.
Laxmi crop
Acid attacks are often rooted in sexism, with 80% of victims being female, often attacked, like Laxmi, by rejected suitors or abusive fathers or partners.
Today, Laxmi is raising a daughter with her partner and fellow activist Alok Dixit. They decided not to marry, which I think is pretty cool, when the fixation with marriage is what resulted in her attack in the first place!
There is so much that could be said about the rising number of acid attacks, not only in India but across the globe. I could comment on the sexist nature of it, the desire to make a woman undesirable, but it’s such a complicated subject and one I can’t pretend to be an expert in. The most amazing thing is the ways in which many women choose to fight against the stigma and push for improvement in legislation. I am inspired by Laxmi’s courage to campaign for change, legally and socially, and her determination to be happy no matter what judgement she faces.
I recommend this article from the BBC and this CNN article, which also has a short video.
Unfortunately I can’t find a translation or subtitles for her Ted Talk – if anyone does, please let me know, I would love to know what she says in it!

 

Sketchbook Pages 1

people sketchbook

people sketchbook2

Hello there!

I’ve been a lot slower with work recently. I finally got my routine perfected when… well, life happened a bit! I’ve been pretty busy with family stuff and a couple of great new design jobs, and my personal work has taken a bit of a back seat! But the other day I got the ball rolling again by having a little sketching session in the evening, watching TV and mostly drawing what I saw. So, some of these faces you may recognise from Celebrity Bake Off, while the people with coffee and books are thoughts for an upcoming project. I hope you like them! There will be another set up here soon.

Lots of Love!

Sketchbook Pages: London

trees
Playing with tree shapes on the train

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I went to London last week. It’s only about an hour away on the train from Leicester which is such a treat! London always feels buzzy, like something important is happening and people are achieving big things. This is layered with a thousand years of history all around you, knowing how much has happened there in the past too makes it really exciting for me! It’s an atmosphere I absolutely love soaking up.

This is without mentioning the museums!! The National Gallery is my favourite, of course, as it inspired my deep love of the Netherlandish Primitive style, and houses so many famous paintings that you see often in art history books.

Speaking of museums, the second image is a sketch I did in the National Portrait Gallery based on a painting of The Family of Sir Robert Vyner. I wanted to live in this painting when I was little! I think that the people look so real, it almost feels as though if you look closely enough at the painting you could get to know them. Apart from their clothing, can’t you picture walking past them in the street?

Trafalgar

I finished up by sitting in the Waterstones across from the Gallery, reading and sketching the outside. This didn’t take long but I really like it!!

 

 

Figure 20: Margaret Ekpo

Margaret

Margaret Ekpo (1914-2006) was a Nigerian feminist and politician, Margaret fought against the economic and political inequalities faced by women.

Born in Creek Town, Calabar, Margaret’s first direct involvement in politics didn’t come until 1945, when she attended a meeting when her husband was unable to attend in Aba. She was the only woman there, but the fiery speeches she heard ignited her passion for politics, and by the 50’s she was well known across Nigeria and abroad as a force for change and a fierce advocate for women. She encouraged women to be politically aware; to participate in politics in order to protect their own interests, as well as the interests of their country.

A key example of this is when she established the Aba Township Women’s Association. In line with the views of many of the local men, the organisation wanted to educate the women to support their countries; but evidently the men didn’t like the idea of the women also being mobilised to take care of their own interests, as none of the men of Aba wanted to let their womenfolk join. Margaret thought outside the box; she managed to gain a monopoly on the salt supplies in Aba, which were in short supply due to the second World War, and told the shops that they may only sell to women who were members of her organisation. After that, the men quickly allowed their women to join up, and women voters outnumbered men by 1954.

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In 1949, when protesting the murders of miners leading a wage protest, she and three other important female leaders were arrested, harassed and threatened with deportation. They were eventually arrested after the women of Aba threatened to set fire to the town, which is a pretty impressive display of gratitude!

Hand in hand with her feminism was her desire to help Nigeria to gain independence from the British, a goal that they achieved in 1960. Margaret was one of the Members of Parliament that year, and throughout the 50’s and 60’s represented Nigerian interests, and usually specifically those of Nigerian women, in many official capacities.

Margaret was dignified but willing to take risks. Her political career seems to have quietened down a lot after the 60’s, but Ekpo is remembered fondly as a ‘Giant of 20th Century Nigerian Politics,’ who got involved at a pivotal moment of her country’s history; and her work encouraging 50% of the entire population to get involved in politics can’t have hurt the cause for Nigerian independence!

 

 

Figure 19: Grace Lee Boggs

Grace

Grace Lee Boggs (1915-2015) was a Civil Rights activist who advocated for social change, and was a philosopher, writer and feminist.

She grew up comfortably; her parents were very successful in the restaurant business, her father being described as “the king of the restaurant businessmen among the Chinese.” She studied Philosophy at College from the age of 16, earning a doctorate by 1940, and she became involved in Socialism, even translating some of Karl Marx’s early letters from German. Unfortunately, after graduating she was unable to get any work even in a department store, as they would not hire ‘orientals.’

She eventually found a job in the philosophy library of the University of Chicago, which paid $10 a week; she had to live for free in a rat-infested basement. The irony of this terrible situation is that those rats helped her get involved with the Civil Rights Movement! Walking through her neighbourhood one day, she saw a group protesting poor living conditions – including living with pests. Something must have clicked for Grace, and this was her first step to being involved with the black community and the struggles they faced.

Grace close.jpg

In 1953 Grace moved to Detroit, where she helped to edit the radical newspaper Correspondence.  a hub for the type of ideas Grace had been cultivating; especially about black worker’s rights and revolutionary thinking. The same year she married a fellow activist and inspiring speaker, James Boggs, who she met in Detroit.

They became the city’s most noted activists, hosting Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, and the couple tackled issues including Civil Rights, feminism, the environment and Asian Americans. She believed in peaceful protests, and was a firm believer in the ability of the individual to change their own life. As the world changed and they moved into the 1970’s, and as Detroit declined, with rising rates of murder, issues with drug addiction, and theft, Grace got involved in finding peaceful ways to improve the city, with organisations which helped school children and planted community gardens.

Grace also wrote several books and went on to guest lecture at universities, even at 97 years old. She died at the age of 100, and never stopped trying to help others, changing the world in smaller ways than she and her friends dreamed of in her earlier years.

“I don’t know what the next American revolution is going to be like, but we might be able to imagine it if your imagination were rich enough.”

You can more about Grace’s life and her activism here and here!

Figure 15: Rigoberta Menchu Tum

Rigoberta.jpg

Rigoberta Menchu (1959 – ) is a Mayan woman from Guatemala. Growing up in the midst of civil war between the rich landowners against the native Mayans, Rigoberta became involved in activism at an early age. She would work with her family, especially her father, to travel between rural communities to teach people their rights and how to organise, in addition to being involved in feminist organisations.

The Menchu family encouraged fellow Guatemalans to protest the Government led mass atrocities. They were punished gravely for their activism. In 1980, at a peaceful protest, Rigoberta’s father was murdered alongside 37 other activists, and his death was followed not long after by the torture and murder of her brother and the torture, rape and murder of her mother. At 21, Rigoberta fled her home country into exile.

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Even abroad Rigoberta continued to oppose the military regime back home, publishing her story and gaining global attention to her cause with her book I, Rigoberta Menchú in 1983. She also joined and led several organisations involved in the liberation of Guatemala, and even returned to the country three times, although she had to leave for her own safety.

In 1992 she received the Nobel Peace prize as recognition of her work for social justice and ethno-cultural reconciliation based on respect for the rights of indigenous peoples. Four years later the civil war finally ended, and Rigoberta finally returned home. She continues her work to support and seek justice for Mayan victims of the genocide, and founded the first indigenous-led political party in Guatamala.

Rigoberta’s commitment to seek justice and speak out against the regime that murdered her family and her people is no surprise; but what is remarkable is her willingness to speak loudly against the cruelty and injustice, despite the very real threats to her own life. Rigoberta is a testament to her family and the Mayan people, and I hope that she is forever remembered her bravery in the face of such brutality and danger.