A Suffragette in Retirement: Portrait of Marion Wallace-Dunlop, Oil on Canvas, 80 x 100cm, 2022
This painting is a posthumous portrait of my great step-aunt, who was an important suffragette, Marion Wallace -Dunlop, known in the family as "Aunt May". She is depicted wearing her WSPU medals “For Valour” for hunger striking and the portcullis brooch for serving time in Holloway Prison. She was arrested in 1909 for stamping a message onto the wall of St Stephen’s Hall in The House of Commons. When she was arrested and taken to prison, she demanded to be placed in the political prisoner section. When this was refused she decided to stop eating, throwing her food out of the window. Afer 91 hours of this they released her. She was therefore the first hunger striker of the Suffragette movement and of the 20th C, for any cause.
Marion was an artist who painted still lives, illustrations and pictures of fairies and other subjects, as well as a portrait of her sister, Connie. I have included this image in my picture as it expresses such extraordinary anger and frustration.
My portrait of Marion shows her in middle age, when she had retired from activism to live in Peaslake and paint. The table and coffee set are items that were actually in her house, where she lived until her death in 1942, where my mother grew up from 1944. I have them in my house now and like to imagine that suffragettes sat and drank from the coffee cups. I have laid them out in the painting, as if to invite others to join her. . My mum posed for Marion’s body, although the face is taken from archive photographs. I have taken liberties with the dog, as although Marion did have a dog, it was a much larger breed. This dog is my mum’s little Lowchen, Rea, who curled up on her lap while she sat for me in my studio.
Dr Emma Young, Consultant in Emergency Medicine, Newham University Hospital Trust
I painted Emma during the 2020 lockdown, as part of the initiative Portraits for NHS Heroes ( click on image for more info) started by artist Tom Croft, to create free portraits of NHS workers during the Covid19 pandemic.
This painting has now been included in the Book Portraits for NHS Heroes, published by Bloomsbury . All profits go to NHS charities.
Emma is a respected doctor at a busy East London hospital, a wonderful person with many interests, including poetry, literature, knitting, camping amd wild swimming as well as being a mother and a friend; a bit of a Renaissance woman, so I painted her in profile, like many early Renaissance portraits.
I like her relaxed yet determined pose, her slight smile and sidewards gaze, showing her humour, even in the face of adversity.