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Pavement artists of the Women’s Suffrage Movement
In 1908, the penalty for a woman suffragette pavement artist caught drawing in chalk on the pavement, was seven days in prison for a first offence.
How the Suffragettes Advertise
The English Suffragettes are going about the country chalking up notices on houses, walls and pavements. This photograph shows three prominent ladies in the campaign for Woman’s Suffrage—Misses Eye, Kenny, and Crocket—chalking up an advertisement on a fence.
Published in the Brisbane Courier (Saturday 25th April 1908)
A Suffrage poem by “Nemo” (a Suffragette)
The supporters of the movement for female suffrage in the United Kingdom have decided on a week of self-denial—(Morning paper.)
Not for a life, or for a year,
But for a week (of seven days clear),
The suffragettes will make a trial
Of unaccustomed self-denial.
What means the term? The plainest dress.
Quite simple in its ugliness,
No milk and sugar in the tea,
The bread from trace of butter free?
There may be something of this sort,
But ’tis not found in our report.
We read of street vo-cal-isations.
Of raising funds at railway stations,
Of organ-grinding, pavement-chalking
(To catch the eye of persons walking).
So far, so very good—but let
Each self-denying suffragette
Go one step further, and deny
Herself the right to speechify.
Let not a single female raid
On patient Parliament be made.
Keep, but for one short week, the peace.
And earn the blessing of the police!
Published in the Western Mail, Perth (Saturday 22nd Feb. 1908)
In order to raise funds, Mrs Pethick Lawrence had designated 15th to 22nd February 1908 as self-denial week. During this week, WSPU members were to do without luxuries such as cocoa, coffee, and tea, perform extra work, or use other means such as pavement chalking, to raise funds for the Union. Mrs Lawrence (President of the WSPU) stated, in reference to Self-Denial Week that “some of the members who were artists meant to add to the funds by working as pavement artists, while other intended to sing in the streets.” According to Miss Christabel Pankhurst, “the results from street singing, organ playing, and pavement drawing have been excellent!”
Activities during “SELF DENIAL WEEK” in 1908 raised over £8000 for the Suffrage movement. £672,851 in today’s value!
‘VOTES FOR WOMEN’ THE CRY
On March 1st 1908, the NEW YORK TIMES reported that the “Suffragettes where begging in London streets” On many street corners, all the way from the eastern part of London to the extreme west, and even in the slum districts, they are presenting their contribution boxes for substantial aid to the “cause.”
Miss Coombes, who is a well-known artist, has been making many pennies by sketching on the pavement with varied colored chalk, and unlike the pictures of Joe Elvin’s famous sidewalk artist, you do not have to “tell ‘em by the writin’ underneath.”
SHE sallied forth with chalks to make London in some measure picturesque!
Suffragettes Chalk Creed on Sidewalk
LONDON—Prime Minister Asquith’s garden party at his official residence on Downing street provided the suffragettes with a new role, that of pavement artists. Stopping suddenly, one of them, writing with a heavy piece of chalk, had got as far as “Do woman want” before a policeman rushed up and removed her. Another chalk-wielder accomplished the word “votes” before an inspector of police rushed her off. Then the police formed a cordon around the house and frustrated further efforts.
Published in the Oakland Tribune USA 20th June 1908
Researched and written by Philip Battle
LINKED BLOG: Pavement Art and the SUFFRAGETTES! (1907-1914)
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