This Week in London – Votes for Women! and, Thai orchids…

February 8, 2018

A portrait slashed with a butcher’s cleaver by a suffragette in the National Portrait Gallery has gone back on display for the first time in more than 20 years. The portrait of gallery founder Thomas Carlyle, painted by Sir John Everett Millais, was attacked by Anne Hunt in July, 1914, after Suffragette leader Emmeline Pankhurst was rearrested. Hunt later said that the painting would be “of added value and of great historical importance because it has been honoured by the attention of a Militant”. The portrait has gone on display to coincide with the opening of the Votes for Women! exhibition which features objects including a document issued by Scotland Yard to the gallery following another attack by suffragette – this time by Mary Richardson on a Velázquez painting, The Rokeby Venus (The Toilet of Venus) – in March, 1914, along with a sheet of identity photographs police gave to the gallery featuring images of women serving sentences in Holloway and Manchester prisons, a selection of the gallery’s collection of postcards produced by women’s suffrage organisations, portraits of the Pankhurst sisters and a rarely seen painting of women’s suffrage movement figures Millicent Garrett Fawcett and her husband Henry Fawcett by Ford Madox Ford (Millicent this year becomes the first woman to have a statue in Parliament Square). Votes for Women! – part of the gallery’s year-long Rebel Women season – can be seen in Room 33, Floor 1, until 13th May. Admission is free. There’s also a complementary showcase display highlighting Victorian pioneers of the women’s suffrage movement – Votes for Women: Pioneers – in Room 25. For more on the Rebel Women season, see  www.npg.org.uk/rebelwomen. PICTURE: Emery Walker’s photograph of damage to the portrait of Thomas Carlyle by Sir John Everett Millais (1877) © National Portrait Gallery, London.

Kew Gardens’ 23rd Orchids Festival  – the first to be inspired by Thailand, home to 1,100 species of the plant – kicks off on Saturday. Held inside the Princess of Wales Conservatory, the festival features an orchid ‘palace’, a traditional Thai market boat and rice paddy and a special Thai cart on loan from the Royal Thai Embassy in London. The festival – which runs until 11th March – centres on a series of weekends featuring special food, live Thai music and talks and walks, the latter including drop-in guided walks of the floral displays. There’s also special activities at half term and a number of ‘after hours’ events which feature traditional dance performances, cooking tips, Thai-inspired cocktails and massage treatments. For more, see www.kew.org.

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