2018 marks 100 years since some women gained the right to vote. Although the Beast From The East interrupted our week we were very glad to be able to celebrate International Women’s Day with a talk from The Fawcett Society. Angie from East London Fawcett came and gave a very interesting and stimulating talk starting with the origins of the Fawcett Society and the suffragists, led by Millicent Fawcett, and gave us an insight into their current campaigns and research around gender inequality.
We had a lively debate following the talk and also had the opportunity to see for the first time our De Beauvoir WI banner which we then proudly accompanied on the March4Women on Sunday. The banner was then displayed outside the Royal Albert Hall on Thursday 8th (International Women’s Day) and appeared on stage at the Royal Festival Hall at Mirth Control alongside Sandy Toksvig and other inspirational women on Sunday 11th March.
A huge thank you to Hackney Archives who came along to our February meeting to talk about their work. They collect, preserve and provide access to records that contribute to our understanding of Hackney’s socio-economic and cultural identity.
The archive was started in 1882 by John Tyson, a Hackney land owner who donated his library. The archive was located in the Old Shoreditch Library in 1965 and in 2012 they moved to a specially designed public space in CLR James Library, Dalston Square.
The oldest document in the archive was written in Latin and dates back to 1356.
They hold over 17,000 images in the form of paintings, drawings and photographs, a small proportion of which can be seen online. Picture postcards, documenting the changes in De Beauvoir over time, are held here as well as photos of bomb damaged properties (see below) and photos of the streets pre clearance to develop the De Beauvoir Estate can also be seen.
They hold a huge collection of maps providing a major source of information on how the area has developed over time . Along with ‘Street Directories’ which were published between 1840-1930 giving list of residents and the drain surveys which began in 1856 – all hold a vast amount of knowledge about the footprint of individual properties.
They also welcome volunteers to help them catalogue for various projects.
What better way to kick off the New Year than with last nights practical workshop that helped us rebalance our bodies and our energy after the business of the festive season. A big thanks to John Haywood who joined us to introduce us to the ancient art of Qigong (Chi Gung), literally translated as ‘Life Energy Cultivation’. Qigong is a holistic system of co-ordinated body posture and movement, breathing and meditation used for the purpose of health. It is traditionally viewed as a practice to cultivate and balance Qi, translated as life energy. There is also research published showing benefits for mental health, with a reduction in cortisol, the hormone produced in the body in response to stress, so a great way to kick off our own self care in the light of the 2019 national resolution on mental health.
John runs a weekly class at Castlehaven Community Centre in Camden on a Tuesday at 11am.
Dates for your diary
Book group is up and running after a December break and will be meeting on 8th January at Bavo at 8pm to discuss The Hitman’s Guide To Housecleaning by Hallgrimur Helgason, email in if you would like to join us but it helps if you have read the book
Knitting group is also back, for beginners and experts, we will be meeting on Monday 21st January, venue to be decided, again email in if you would like to learn to knit, hone your existing skills or want to come along for a knit and natter
We will be resuming our collections of toiletries for the women in the Solace refuges – bodywash, shampoo, conditioner, etc all welcome
The Night Shelter at St Peter’s will be up and running from the 7th January, we are providing a home made cake every Monday throughout the course of the shelter running – we have had volunteers for January but if you fancy baking a cake in February or March to deliver on a Monday then let us know.
What a fabulous start to the year as we welcomed Nicola Whittaker from Fellows Auctioneers. Fellows is a family run firm and Nicola is a sixth generation member of her family to join the business and she began working in the auction house aged 16 in her school holidays. Fellows are based in Birmingham but have an office in Mayfair, London where Nicola now works. Specialising in jewellery and watches, she explained that unlike many other auction houses, they do not put a lower price limit on items they auction. Passionate and informative she took us through a whistlestop tour of the history of jewellery, how changes in society emerged in changing aesthetics, and how things changed further as exploration, excavation and gem cutting equipment developed. She was so generous with her time and her knowledge and spent a further hour with us looking at the treasures members had brought in and giving us information on origin , history and potential value. She also mentioned that that Fellows have open afternoons where anyone can go and peruse the items up for auction so we are thinking we may plan a trip there. If you are interested in coming along email us at email@example.com
At our October meeting we enjoyed a fascinating talk by David Buckman on the work of the East London Group – a group of artists who developed from an art club at the Bethnal Green Men’s Institute and who achieved critical acclaim in the early half of the 20th century. Their drawings and paintings show buildings, streets and ways of life that no longer exist.
There are 2 exhibitions currently taking place showing various works from the East London Group
At the Nunnery gallery in Bow until 17th December, and at Southampton City Art Gallery until early January 2018.
The November meeting was our annual group meeting with other local WI groups and we had visitors from N1, Stow Roses, Stone Rangers, East End and Stoke Newington. We learned how to lindy hop, calypso and dance to Bombay Dreams with top choreographer and west end performer Jreena Green.
Jreena also works with the Green Candle Dance company who believe that everyone has the right to practice, learn, watch and appreciate dance, regardless of age or ability. Their classes at Oxford House, Tower Hamlets include Dance and Dementia, Older Men Moving and Green Candle Senior Dance Classes. See their website for details.
On Thursday 6th October Alex Nunn, from Action for Happiness, led us on an inspiring and interactive exploration of what really matters for a happy and meaningful life. The evening was filled with personal insights and as usual the women of De Beauvoir opened their hearts to trying to make a difference.
Ten Keys to happier living:
GIVING – do things for others
RELATING – connect with people
EXERCISING – Take care of your body
AWARENESS – Live life mindfully
TRYING OUT – Keep learning new things
DIRECTION – Have goals to look forward to
RESILIENCE – Find ways to bounce back
EMOTIONS – Look for waht’s good
ACCEPTANCE – Be comfortable with who you are
MEANING – Be part of something