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Reading’s Influential Women – an inspiring read!

Reading’s Influential Women features more than 60 individual Women who have a connection with Reading and have made a notable difference in the world. Some are well known international names, others deserve to be. They are pioneers, familiar faces, recognisable voices, unsung heroes, campaigners, world changers, socialists, celebrities, Olympic and sporting champions, writers, artists, and scientists. It’s an inspiring read!

Authors Terry Dixon and Linda Saul write:

‘There are innumerable men and women from Reading who have achieved significant things or contributed to the life of the town and/or the wider world. Some, unfortunately, have gone unrecognised or are forgotten. Also, we know that in the past, the contribution of women was often dismissed, overlooked or attributed to somebody else.

In this book we can’t hope to document all those women connected to Reading who deserve to be mentioned but we can raise the profile of some, especially those whose connection to Reading is relatively unknown. To be included, women need to have been born, bred, educated in the greater Reading area, or to have lived there, or else have made an indelible mark on the town. We have included a couple of ‘unsung heroines’, but we know there are many more.

Many of the women in this book will have had their lives affected by misogyny. Several have played their part in challenging such attitudes. Edith Morley was a Suffragist (although Lady Wantage was antisuffragism), Ethelwyn Trewavas campaigned for married women to be able to keep their jobs. Some, such as Lettice Curtis, just got on and proved how good they were in a field dominated by men. Modern campaigns, such as Me Too, and the under-representation of women in many fields and the top tiers of organisations remind us there is still more progress to be made.

One area which has seen massive improvement in recent years is sport. Elite sportswomen are clearly influential in encouraging wider participation in sport, at all levels, and we have several examples in this book. But who knows how many more there might have been if women’s sport had not been discouraged in the not-too-distant past.

In writing this book some interesting threads emerged, and there are always questions. It is fun to try to find any connections between the individuals – were Jane Austen and Mary Mitford friends? Is it coincidence that one of the first female professional photographers set up a business in the same town where William Fox Talbot had made major advances in photography just a decade earlier?’

The authors’ royalties from the book are to be donated to Berkshire Women’s Aid.

About the Authors:

Terry Dixon was born in Tilehurst, Reading, and held the post of National Publicity and Development Officer on the National Federation of 18 Plus Groups NEC for 6 years. In his day job he was an electronics engineer and project manager. Taking early retirement in 2016, he started ‘Terry’s Reading Walkabouts’ to get fitter, and to introduce visitors and residents to the hidden culture and history of Reading. In 2017 he decided to celebrate Vote 100 by creating a new guided walk called ‘Famous/not-so-famous women of Reading’ which was launched in February 2018 to coincide with the date the Act of Parliament received royal assent. His research for that walk is the basis for this book. His walkabouts have raised over £7500 (including £1000 for Berkshire Women’s Aid) for local charities and he is a member of Reading Civic Society’s committee.

Linda Saul was born and raised on the Isle of Wight but has lived in Reading for about 35 years. After studying at Cambridge, she embarked on a successful career in IT. In her younger, wilder, days she developed a habit of falling out of aircraft before finally learning to fly one. She is now a full-time artist, her work focusing on the built environment. She exhibits regularly in London and is an active member of the Reading Guild of Artists. A perpetual student, she has completed a physics degree with the Open University and is now studying for a Masters in mathematics. In 2019 Linda cocurated an exhibition of art inspired by Oscar Wilde’s The Ballad of Reading Gaol. Galvanised by the campaign to save Reading Gaol for the town, she conceived and organised the Reading Gaol Hug with the help of many others, including Terry.

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The Art and History of Whiteknights – A roundup

Over the summer we have posted a series of articles and videos, which you can link to below, celebrating the art and history of Whiteknights. The series accompanied the publication of The Art and History of Whiteknights book, which we published together with the Whiteknights Studio Trail, with support from The Friends of the University of Reading.

2020 is the trail’s 20th year and in the unfortunate absence of the trail itself in 2020 (it will be back in 2021!) we hope that the book, together with these fascinating posts and videos, will remind you of the wealth of creative talent in our locality, as well as inspiring you to reflect more deeply on the history and roots of this special part of town.

‘There’s something about the Whiteknights area that makes people stay here.’ – From the Foreword by Fiona Talkington, BBC Radio 3 Presenter and long-term resident

The Art and History of Whiteknights: 1 – A visit to the studio of local artist Sally Castle

The Art and History of Whiteknights: 2 – Jenny Halstead writes about the Whiteknights Studio Trail and Christchurch Green

The Art and History of Whiteknights: 3 – Martin Andrews on the Old Dairy, and a tour of his studio

The Art and History of Whiteknights: 4 – Chris Mercier

The Art and History of Whiteknights: 5 – Carole Stephens

The Art and History of Whiteknights: 6 – Andrew Boddington

The Art and History of Whiteknights: 7 – Salvo Toscano

The Art and History of Whiteknights: 8 – Kennet Quilters

The Art and History of Whiteknights: 9 – Hilary James

The Art and History of Whiteknights: 10 – A tour around the Whiteknights campus with John Grainger and Ian Burn

The Art and History of Whiteknights: 11 – A tour around Southern Hill and the area around Whiteknights with Evelyn Williams and Dennis Wood

 

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The Art and History of Whiteknights: 9 – Hilary James

In this video, musician, singer and artist Hilary James shows us around Talfourd Avenue in the Whiteknights area of Reading, which is the inspiration for the artwork she produced for The Art and History of Whiteknights. She talks about her illustration work and how using an iPad has opened up new possibilities including animation and the mixing together of art with music.

Hilary James studied Fine Art at Reading University before changing direction to pursue a musical career. In 2004, she rekindled her passion for painting. Four years ago she became excited by the possibilities of digital media: iPad art, film making and augmented reality and hasn’t looked back.

hilaryjames.com

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In a normal year, we always look forward to the annual Whiteknights Studio Trail, where our local artists and craftspeople open their houses. This is the trail’s 20th year, and in a joint venture with the Whiteknights Studio Trail, Two Rivers Press is delighted to publish a beautiful celebratory book, The Art and History of Whiteknights, which features 28 artworks all inspired by the Whiteknights area of Reading. The featured artists have all exhibited on the trail over the years, and in the unfortunate absence of the trail itself in 2020 (it will be back in 2021!) we hope that this book will remind you of the wealth of creative talent in our locality, as well as inspiring you to reflect more deeply on the history and roots of this special part of town.

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The Art and History of Whiteknights: 7 – Salvo Toscano

Salvo Toscano writes:

© Salvo Toscano

I have always been interested in looking at the space where we live and how it defines us and interact with us. How it contributes to our sense of belonging and being. It describes and defines a place in our mind, or gives us clues about the history of the place or the people, maybe makes us curious about it.

By looking at the space I aim to observe how it may reflects or holds emotions: photographing the space is a way for me to capture my experience of being and seeing and interpreting those emotions.

I was very delighted to be invited to contribute to this publication celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Whiteknights Studio Trail. I have been living in Reading sine 2001, found out and visited the WST artists for the first time in 2005 and joined in 2010. It is an event that brings local people together and a great way to explore the area. A good feature of the WST is that all happens within an area that can be easily walked through, the streets really come to life during those weekends. Every weekend I had several hundreds people visiting me and I always found fascinating to observe them while watching, scrutinising, absorbing my work. It was a pleasure during the past years to engage with visitors to my exhibitions and discussing, answering questions or just chatting, sometimes discovering common connections or small unknown facts.  Always grateful to visitors for appreciating my work and the purchases: glad to know that there are some walls and shelves in Reading with my work on display.

As a photographer one of the reoccurring questions was about my processes and equipment.  Nearly all my personal work is currently shot on film and occasionally I process black and white prints in a traditional darkroom. For me it is not a matter of better or worse, rather just enjoyment in using and responding to a vision or aesthetic, that I feel reflects a specific idea or project. I occasionally find helpful constraining an idea to a certain format or technical limitations, it contributes to harnessing how I want to express something. Other times I run totally free and combine different formats as if they were different elements of a band covering different bits of a music score.

The image selected for this publication is from a set of images I shot around the Whiteknights Campus Lake. The lake is one of those semi-hidden gems in Reading. Though we’re in an urban area, once you step in that part of the campus you are taken somewhere that feels quite rural. This dichotomy between urban and bucolic probably inspired me. I aimed to not look for extraordinary images but for a depiction of somewhere that is mundane and reachable: a space that is visible but concealed as well. By using a slow shutter approach I sought to capture a feeling, a perception of a place how it would not be normally visible to us. For a brief moment it is taken outside its real context. I decided to use a black and white film to emphasize the mood of a semi-real scenery and perceived nostalgia for a place that, as a matter of fact, is very real and present.

For this work I decided to go for my Hasselblad camera, a medium format film camera, and compose within the square frame that the camera produces. Medium format film is a type of film wider than the 35mm that most people are familiar with. With this camera it produces images of 6x6cm on the negatives. The emulsion being on a bigger surface, it generates a different looking image and finish compared to a 35mm frame. An advantage of this camera is that allows me to explore at the same time different approaches, say, in both black and white and colour, as the film is kept in a magazine that can be swapped with another one with a different film, during the same shoot. Below are the image in the book and some of those that “did not make it” .

You can keep track of me on Instagram at @salvo_ts and @salvo_toscano_photographer

Website www.salvotoscanophotography.com

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In a normal year, we always look forward to the annual Whiteknights Studio Trail, where our local artists and craftspeople open their houses. This is the trail’s 20th year, and in a joint venture with the Whiteknights Studio Trail, Two Rivers Press is delighted to publish a beautiful celebratory book, The Art and History of Whiteknights, which features 28 artworks all inspired by the Whiteknights area of Reading. The featured artists have all exhibited on the trail over the years, and in the unfortunate absence of the trail itself in 2020 (it will be back in 2021!) we hope that this book will remind you of the wealth of creative talent in our locality, as well as inspiring you to reflect more deeply on the history and roots of this special part of town.

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The Art and History of Whiteknights: 6 – Andrew Boddington

Andrew Boddington’s stained glass window, illustrated here, features in The Art and History of Whiteknights. The window was commissioned for a home in Upper Redlands Road, in a building which was previously used by the University of Reading as rooms for the Music Faculty. The design of the glass reflects the history of the building while making a bold and colourful visual statement.

In this video Andrew talks a little about this artwork in its (slightly windy!) location, and he then shows us around his attic studio and introduces his current experimental work using sifted glass frit, inspired by some recent life drawing classes and the cut out technique of Henri Matisse.

 

Andrew Boddington, Designer and Maker in Glass.

About

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In a normal year, we always look forward to the annual Whiteknights Studio Trail, where our local artists and craftspeople open their houses. This is the trail’s 20th year, and in a joint venture with the Whiteknights Studio Trail, Two Rivers Press is delighted to publish a beautiful celebratory book, The Art and History of Whiteknights, which features 28 artworks all inspired by the Whiteknights area of Reading. The featured artists have all exhibited on the trail over the years, and in the unfortunate absence of the trail itself in 2020 (it will be back in 2021!) we hope that this book will remind you of the wealth of creative talent in our locality, as well as inspiring you to reflect more deeply on the history and roots of this special part of town.