The Power Of Miss Potter
As a female illustrator, it is often hard to find women who have been successful within this field- hidden beneath the great mulitudes of men who in their own right are amazingly talented within this career, I think its time for more female artists to get their share of the limelight....
'There is something quite delicious about writing the first words of a story- you never quite know where they will take you...' Beatrix Potter
When I was a little girl, the literature I was surrounded by was often illustrated by men. Although they were all great artists within their own right, I often remember feeling confused as to why so little women were well known within this field. Why is it there seemed so little of us? Where were our stories, our take on words and the magic they can conjure? Endlessly shuffling through book after book, it was only until my late teens I learnt of one female illustrator who came to change the course of my life, and also my belief in the power of female creators. Her name you may ask? It was ,of course, Beatrix Potter.
Though she is most well known for her enchanting watercolours of Peter Rabbit, Mrs Tiggywinkle and the infamous Mr Mcgregor, it is her life and journey which inspired me most. Growing up in the austerity of victorian england, though her house was often filled with great minds of the day including Lewis Carroll (author of 'Alice and Wonderland') she herself was closeted from this ,and though meeting these great minds, was never encouraged to pursue their creative lifestyle. As a woman bought into a relatively wealthy family, her only aim in the eyes of her parents was to marry, and to marry someone who had money enough to care for her when she eventually left home. However, rather than tread this worn and often dreary path, Beatrix instead listened to her own heart, and fought for her right to be both a published author and illustrator. Aside from this she also fought for her chance to decide whom it was she would spend the rest of her life with- that she took such risks and stepped away from the societal constrictions around her lit a flame in my heart- I couldn't believe that she had accomplished so much at a time when such harsh patriarchal rules were in place- publishing countless novels, she is now one of the best selling childrens authors, and, as if that were not enough, has saved over 4000 acres of lake district land through her using profits from sales to conserve it from the power and hunger of the industrial revolution, which was roaring across England as she herself rejoiced within the traditions of community and farming that still lay hidden within the green heart of Britain.
To this day, I am so thankful to her for paving the way for women like me to have our say within this community, and have our chance to make art and have it celebrated alongside with the men. There is ,sadly, still a long way to go yet- with gender pay gaps still a major divider between men and women, and also the lack of female artists and illustrators in galleries and bookshops, the journey is in no way over- but just like Beatrix I am determined not to let this stop me. I was born to be an illustrator- and I will fight to be one, just as she did, all those years ago.