• Through The Glass Ceiling
 

Through The Glass Ceiling

Kate Sheppard1
              Kate Sheppard (1847 – 1934)

Elizabeth McCombs2
           Elizabeth McCombs (1873 – 1935)

Gladys Boyd3
Gladys Boyd (1889 – 1966)

Airini Grennell1
Airini Nga Roimata Grennell (1910 – 1988)

Jo Laing4
                 Captain Joanne Laing

Through The Glass Ceiling

They are a disparate company. The first, born when George Grey was still Governor of New Zealand, launching the suffragette movement in New Zealand; the fifth working today as the country’s first woman harbour pilot. All born in or connected to the historically masculine environs of the Lyttelton Harbour basin, they form a local lineage of women who challenged, broke or simply ignored the social, cultural or political glass ceilings of their day.

In this series of quiet portraits, artist Julia Holden draws a narrative thread through the lives of these women: English-born suffragette Kate Sheppard (1847-1934) who made landfall at the port with her family on the Matoaka in 1869; Elizabeth McCombs (1873-1935), the first woman elected to the Parliament of New Zealand when she won a by-election in the Lyttelton seat in 1933; Gladys Boyd (1889-1966), local volunteer with various organisations, one of the first female borough councillors and founder of Boyd Cottages, the first pensioner cottages in Lyttelton; singer, pianist and pioneering Maori broadcaster Airini Nga Roimata Grennell (1910-1988); and Captain Joanne Laing, safely guiding visiting ships into Lyttelton Port.

Coinciding with the Lyttelton exhibition of the Kate Sheppard sculpture, commissioned by Women’s Refuge and designed and constructed by Propeller Studios in Wellington, this sequence of paintings builds on the resolve of Holden’s earliest subject to chart a lasting legacy of strength and determination.

Sally Blundell

5 Camellias
Camellias (Kate Sheppard camellia centre)
Oil on board, 30cm x 21cm each

IMG_0954
5 Postcards