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Struck Deep Their Root

This piece was inspired by my fascination with the writings of Mary Wollstonecraft. A vibrant, brilliant woman; early radical feminist, outspoken author, advocate for social justice & free speech and a prolific writer. She shocked society with her free-thinking ways. A devoted mother, author of children’s books as well as essays on raising children in a clean environment. She emphasized the importance of play, and how vital it is to educate girls as well as boys (a shocking suggestion). She wrote moving letters describing her little daughter Fanny, and how much she delighted in the little girl. By the time her second child was born, she was dead. That daughter would go on to write Frankenstein.

Mary’s views on education were idiosyncratic for the time. She compares education to the growth of trees.  She believed memorization rather than genuine thought created blind followers rather than useful adults; created clinging vines rather than free-standing trees.  Mary argued that parents who force their children to memorize facts without understanding  “do not consider that the tree, and even the human body, does not strengthen its fibres till it has reached its full growth”

I see Mary’s heroic profile on the central silver coin.  I have embedded her in a plain bottle cap, creating a ‘cameo’.  Vintage oxidized and braided wire frame her face.  The tree leaf sprouted naturally (with a little cutting, filing, hammering and etching of a vintage spoon). This silver leaf is the link Mary makes between educating children and the slow growth of trees.  The silver-wrapped pen nib relates to Mary’s silver tongue. She is attached to a steel chain by a white domestic button... in part a reference to her natural skills and absolute joy in motherhood; and in part describing her own unorthodox domesticity.

The solid silver coin is British, appropriated many years ago, part of a lovely old earring.  The black bottle cap came from my other life as a Conservator. The strong vintage steel chain was found on a wooden spool in a dusty warehouse in Calgary. The lovely little silver spoon is a lucky thrift store find.


Antique silver coin, Vintage Silver-Plated or Silver spoon, Toughened plastic cap, Resin, Steel Chain, Brass


This piece has been sold.