Sylvia Pankhurst against a purple spotted background with a green halo

5 Remarkable women you probably don’t know about…

In celebration of International Women’s Day and the contributions of distinguished women in arts, we have some lesser-known female artists with fascinating stories for you to discover and hopefully be inspired by, enriching your appreciation for the intersection of women, art history, and creativity!

Mrs Young Sook Park

A photo of the white moon jar on a grey background made by Young Sook Park

Mrs. Park was not just any artist; she is a master of making traditional Korean ceramics, which means she could shape clay into beautiful pots, vases, and plates that look so amazing, you’d probably think twice before putting biscuits on them! 

She became super famous for something called the “Moon Jar” – imagine a big, round, glowing jar that looks like the full moon on a clear night! It wasn’t just beautiful, it was like holding a piece of the moon right in your hands.

So, next time you’re modelling with clay, think of Mrs Young Sook Park and remember that with a bit of imagination and a lot of practice, you too could create something incredible that could amaze the world! Who knows? Maybe you’re the next great artist in the making!

Yara Said

A photograph of a the Refugee National Flag by the artist Yara Said.

Let’s dive into the colourful world of Yara Said, an artist who paints not just with brushes and paints, but with a whole lot of heart and courage. Imagine using your art to tell stories so powerful, they can help change the world. That’s exactly what Yara does!

Yara Said is from Syria, a country that has seen a lot of tough times. But instead of giving up, Yara turned her experiences into something beautiful.

One of her famous works is the “Refugee Flag.” It’s not your ordinary flag – this one is a symbol of hope and bravery for people who had to leave their homes to find a safer place. The flag is orange with a black stripe, colours inspired by the life vests that many refugees wear, as they take perilous journeys in search of safety. It’s a reminder that everyone deserves a safe place to call home. Isn’t that cool?

Keep creating, as your creativity can mean being an important voice, like Yara.

May Morris

A photograph of a silver necklace designed by May Morris

Imagine having an uber famous dad? May Morris did! 

She was the daughter of William Morris who was a famous textile designer, poet and artist in the 19th Century, often referred to as the father of the British Arts and Crafts movement. May is an unsung heroine of the Arts and Crafts Movement, stepping out from the shadow of her famous and influential father. 

At the tender age of 23, May was employed in the family business managing the embroidery department, though she was herself a talented artist, designer, needle woman, educator and jewellery maker. In later life she dedicated herself to curating and recording her father’s body of work ensuring it would remain for future generations, perhaps at the expense of her own reputation.  

Towards the end of her life May made an uncharacteristic boast in a letter to a friend writing “I’m a remarkable woman – always was, though none of you seemed to think so.” 

We do May, we do!

Maria Bang Espersen

A photograph of a glass sculpture designed by Maria Bang Espersen

Ever heard of Maria Bang Espersen? No? Well, you’re in for a treat! Imagine if someone could make glass do yoga – stretching, bending, and twisting into unbelievable shapes. She makes glass look like it’s frozen mid-dance move, or a sculpture that’s so wiggly, you’d want to poke it (but let’s not; we’re talking about glass here!).

Maria stretches and folds the molted glass over and over again. Once this working of the mass has been done enough times the glass surface will have a filament-like quality. She wants her sculptures to push the limits of what is possible, and give a different perspective on the possibilities around us, not just what can be done with glass.

What material could you work with in a new way today?

Sylvia Pankhurst

A photograph of a teacup and saucer designed by Sylvia Pankhurst

You might know about the Suffragettes, but do you know one of their daughters was also an avid activist for the cause? Sylvia Pankhurst was Emmeline Pankhurst’s daughter; Emmeline ran the organisation the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU), a militant group set up in 1903, intent on getting women the vote. 

Suffragettes would attend secret tea parties where they discussed tactics for doing damage.The women would often leave these gatherings with “party bags” of stones for breaking shop windows hidden under their skirts. 

This bone china tea cup and saucer was made to raise funds for the organisation and features the Angel of Freedom logo in the suffragette colours of Green (hope) White (purity) and Purple (dignity). It was designed by Emmeline’s daughter  Sylvia who won a two year scholarship to the Royal College of Art.

If you’d like to learn more about these incredible women, you can join the Remarkable Women Tour at the V&A South Kensington, every Saturday at 11am in March 2024. 

Details here.