Inspiring Women on International Women’s Day 2012


I’m lucky enough to have some examples of Jessie Tait’s ceramic designs for Midwinter on display in my house. Falling leaves, a hand-painted design from 1955 shows beautiful fluid lines and soft 1950’s autumnal (fall) colours. I also have some of the popular Sienna range from later on in her career, produced between 1962 – 1978.

Jessie Tait was born in Stoke-on-Trent, England in 1928 and studied at the College of Art in Burslem. In about 1946 she joined the staff at the Midwinter factory and worked there as a designer until 1974 when she moved to Johnson brothers, and retired in the early 1990’s. During her long career she made what I think to be some of the most interesting and inspiring ceramic designs in existence. A dedicated and talented designer – she’s definitely on my list of inspiring women. [Source: Midwinter Pottery, a revolution in British Tableware by Steven Jenkins. Plus a bit of Wikipedia]

I’m also in possession of a Winifred Atwell vinyl single, with a fine sleeve design, which I picked up in a local charity shop. This is a copy of Black and White Rag, Jubilee Rag, with a b-Side of Britannia Rag and Coronation Rag. I didn’t know anything about her then, (I know, shame on me) but have since found out that she was born in Trinidad around 1910, and is the only female instrumentalist to have a UK singles chart number 1, and the first black person to have a UK number 1 hit [Source: Wikipedia]. Another inspirational woman on my list.

This weekend I also had the pleasure of listening to Liz Kershaw on 6Music who mentioned the forthcoming International Women’s Day and asked listeners to think about the inspirational women in music. On name came into my head immediately, PJ Harvey, whose music I have been collecting and listening to since John Peel played her tracks Dress and Sheelanagig on Radio 1. Such a feisty and strong attitude has to be admired, and she recently won the Outstanding Contribution to Music NME Award. She also won the Mercury Prize for her album Let England Shake, a prize she also won in 2001 for Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea (which features Thom Yorke on backing vocals – how cool is that?). I love her music and her attitude and this image from the second album: Rid of Me.

Liz also played 6Music listener’s suggestions of women who inspired them, among them some of my favourites including Skunk Anansie, Bjork, Amy Winehouse, Patti Smith, Minnie Ripperton, and Sinead O’Connor (who has just released a new album). So many inspiring women including my mum (who has amazing energy for a 70-year-old and teaches dancing as well as other activities), my grandmothers, my daughter (who will be an amazing woman one day), and all my fabulous women friends!

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