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Taught from their infancy that beauty is woman's sceptre, the mind shapes itself to the body, and roaming round its gilt cage, only seeks to adorn its prison..

Mary Wollstonecraft


Mary Wollstonecraft is known now as a proto-feminist; one of the first to write about the rights of women. Writing about the limitations that society and nature places on women....and how women must use their power and strength to try to overcome these limits. Yet she also spoke with great tenderness and humanity on her role as wife, sister and beloved mother.

Everyone who knew her spoke of her humane and vivid way with words...she was an original. Her short books on education for girls, focussed on independence and equality. Yet all around her she saw a different story: girls forced to focus on domestic duties and servitude...women's beauty being used as power....women forced to live a caged existence. Mary saw minds being shaped by this narrow concept of what it was to be female...a self-limiting concept...creating a cage that was difficult to escape. Blocking out everything needed to make a vibrant human being with a soul. She felt that to escape this dark cage and fly free was a necessary emancipation. At the same time she refused to give up the joys of motherhood and love. She wanted it all. Mary tried to escape the cage created for women and is recognized now for her heart, her bravery and her modern, independent thought.

In our lives we create many cages. The tools for freedom and independence become knowledge, insight and strength. For Mary, her tools included her pen, her brilliant mind and her heart.

A strong chain connecting the elements.  A burned and blackened cage made from domestic objects.  Fragile, burned, but strong wings, with a quiet glitter, attached to a steel pen nib.  The pen nib that becomes a weapon of power.  An antique hand, clenched in a fist, carved from bone. The strength of her spirit.


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