Lucy Cokes - Book Conservator

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What is your greatest achievement?

I am very aware that a lot of young people often feel lost, especially in a world where it feels like anything we do won’t make an impact on the world. I am very proud and lucky to have found a profession I love and also a passion for sharing those skills – I have found my own way to change the world, by preserving one book at a time.

What motivates you to do what you do?

I have always loved telling stories. As a book conservator, I can help to uncover stories, whether it’s finding an unusual annotation in a 16th-Century book or a ticket stub used as a bookmark. Books can tell stories beyond the words that are written in them, and I find that really exciting – it is my job to preserve books for people in the future to use and read, and that is a huge motivating factor. As I enable people to interact with heritage, I let them interact with their own histories and culture, from which they can be inspired.

 What do you owe your mother? 

I used to get embarrassed if someone told me ‘you’re just like your mum’ but now I can see it’s the highest compliment: she taught me compassion and kindness, and she encouraged my passion for working with my hands and telling stories. I also owe her all the people I’ve won over with her amazing shortbread recipe!

Which women inspire you and why?

I recently have found a great friend in Sineke, who turned 81 this year. She came over from Europe to work here as a nurse. She fell in love with bookbinding and her late husband, Peter, and although circumstances meant she couldn’t follow her dreams, I am in awe of her tenacity and enquiring mind, humbled by her generosity and so happy to share her excitement for her new dreams.

I also dance with an amazing group of women, some who have fought hardships, at Penzance Ballet School at the Thursday Adult ballet class. I am dancing with about 20 years of experience, but watching these women develop and improve in the 18 months I have lived here has truly been inspiring. 81-year-old ex-dancer Olga is a remarkable dancer, comfortable and quietly confident in her abilities, and the smile she wears for her love of dance is completely infectious.

What are you reading?

As well as old books, one of my other passions is fantasy – I adore books about dragons and magic, and one of my dreams is to be a fantasy author. Fantasy offers an escape from the real world and highlights its beauty while providing a strong sense of hope, even when everything seems dark. I am currently finding a kindred spirit in Seraphina by Rachel Hartmann, as she navigates her world of discrimination and mystery, and her own guilt and fear of being half-dragon, half-human.  

What gender barriers have you had to hurdle?

I am extremely privileged to not have faced gender-based barriers in my life, and I am forever grateful for that. Conservation is a female-dominated profession, and I am lucky to work with and be inspired by the women I work with every day.

How can the world be a better place for women?

I think acceptance and kindness is the key for equality, and we can only achieve that through communication. Those of us in positions where we can use our voice to speak up absolutely should – and other people need to encourage and lift up the quieter voices.

Describe your perfect day

A rainy day in a cosy house, with hours of uninterrupted reading or writing, and a cat to sit on my lap.

We've noticed there really aren't many (if any) statues of women around Cornwall – who would you see remembered?

Women who have made a legacy – we owe them our remembrance, and they deserve to have their stories told. 

Give us a tip?

Never, ever use sticky-tape when repairing important paper objects – if you have to, use a paper patch with a washable glue stick. Future conservators will thank you!

About Lucy Lucy Cokes is a book conservator and native of the Isle of Wight. She began making and writing books when she was seven years old with her mum, and followed her love of books to Bath Spa University to study English Literature with Creative Writing, with a significant interest in book history. In Bath, she fell in love with a city, a profession and a boy, and wrote her dissertation on the books at the Holburne Museum. After being a secondary school librarian for a couple of years, Lucy studied Book Conservation at West Dean College, where she developed a passion for telling other people about conservation. West Dean has led her to experiences at the Museum of the Order of St. John and the Bodleian Library, and, since graduating, she has worked at Canterbury Cathedral, repairing books from as early as 1250. Lucy moved to Penzance in 2017 and is currently working alongside Lizzie Neville at P.Z. Conservation, and her favourite objects to conserve are 20th Century ephemeral materials. Lucy is proud to work with local communities, teaching Cornwall how to look after their most precious objects.

Jessica Cooper - Artist

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What do you consider your greatest achievement?

Learning to find a sense of self. Juggling a career and daily life and motherhood. Giving up smoking.

What motivates you to do what you do?

A thirst for knowledge and understanding. A love of art and life. Since being a child, I’ve always had the feeling that ‘there’s something out there that I haven’t found yet ‘and that life is about the need to ‘keep on searching‘ .

What do you owe your mother?

I owe my mother a lifetime of emotional support and quite a lot of money. My mother is one of the most compassionate, humanitarian, generous, intelligent, beautiful, annoying, stubborn and funny people that I know.

Which women inspire you and why?

At this moment in time these women inspire me: my daughter for her courage and her kindness ; my women friends for their unconditional love - each one is mad, bad and beautiful; artist Annie Albers for her innovation and commitment to her art; and Director Nadine Labaki for highlighting personal and world issues through her art of film.

What are you reading?

I have three books on the go that I’ve been trying to finish for the last year: ‘Less Than Zero’ by Bret Easton Ellis , ‘A Little Life’ by Hanya Yanagihara and ‘Colourless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage’ by Haruki Murakami.

What gender barriers have you had to hurdle?

Not many to date, I have been lucky. However, I think I am quite good at standing my ground when situations do arise whether gender based or not, and i also walk away from things and let them go, so that the other party involved has to think about things.

How can the world be made a better place for women?

I think if women and men could accept both their places and roles in society on an equal footing and work together, the world would be a better place for everyone, regardless of specific gender .

Describe your perfect day?

A friend once told me to find one thing in each day that you love. Maybe that way each day can be a perfect day. Perfect days would need to include, amongst other things: the sea, the sun, art, a city, people, space to breathe, chocolate and the man that I love …. but maybe not all at once!

We've noticed there really aren't many (if any) statues of women around Cornwall - who would you see remembered?

This is a really hard one. I think it would be great if each district in Cornwall could vote for a woman that they felt should be remembered, then there could be six statues! Whether it’s the lady who works in the fish and chip shop or the next potential female noble peace prize winner .

Give us a tip?

Ok, here’s a quid. Be kind but take no shit. Listen more. See both sides of an argument. Remember that a smile can work miracles .

That’s five tips .

About Jessica Artist Jessica Cooper lives in Newlyn and has lived and worked in West Penwith’s weather worn landscape for most of her life. She studied at Falmouth College and Goldsmith’s College, London and is a member of the NSA, PSA and an RWA. She exhibits regularly on a national and international basis, including exhibitions at The Exchange and Newlyn Art Gallery, the RWA, Tate St. Ives, Kestle Barton, Tremenheere Sculpture Gardens and the New York and International Art Fairs with Edgar Modern Fine Art. Cooper’s work is permanently on show at The Belgrave, St. Ives and Beyond The Sea, Padstow . She has received awards for drawing from the University of the West of England and has been shortlisted for the NOAC and Art Rooms exhibitions. Cooper has worked on design projects and product ranges, in collaboration with Arbor ( USA ), Nathan Outlaw ( St. Enodoc Hotel ), Tate Enterprises and Tate St. Ives, Simon Marsh ( Paupers Press ), Art Press, King + McGraw ( John Lewis ), Tremenheere Sculpture Gardens, Seasalt ( Cornwall ).

Further information and links: www.jessicacooper.co.uk

Lisa Di Tommaso - Morrab Library's Senior Librarian

Photo: florence browne

Photo: florence browne

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

I made a decision rather late in my life to give up my job in Australia and move to the UK to live and work. I didn’t know anyone, and I was only planning to stay a year. Seventeen years later, I’m still here, and having made some career decisions which weren’t necessarily the safest, I haven't looked back, and have had some wonderful experiences.

What motivates you to do what you do?

I’ve been a librarian for 30 years now – my biggest motivation comes not only from being able to connect people with the information they need, but to share in their sheer enjoyment when they do find their answers. I’ve also been lucky enough to work with some of the UK’s most important collections, including Anglo-Saxon manuscripts, copies of the Magna Carta, scientific illustrations from Captain Cook’s voyages, and Charles Darwin’s papers. If that doesn’t get you out of bed in the morning, nothing will!

What do you owe your mother?

My mum was only 51 when she died. Due to family circumstances, she had to give up her dreams of going to university and travelling the world, to support her family. She and my father sacrificed an awful lot to to make sure my brothers and I would have those opportunities. I owe her everything.

Which women inspire you and why?

I looked after the manuscript collections of a number of paleontologists when I worked at the Natural History Museum. I was in awe of women such as Dorothea Bate. She talked her way into a job at the NHM in 1898 when only 19 years old - and long before women were officially employed as scientists there. She went on to explore Cyprus, Crete and other areas, discovering fossil specimens, many new to science and which significantly changed our understanding of evolution in isolated areas. She travelled alone, hiring local men as guides and interpreters. She did all of this, including abseiling down cliff faces and exploring caves, in Georgian dresses. I’m inspired by intrepid women who take charge of their own destiny when the odds look to be against them.

What are you reading?

I’ve just finished Willy Vlautin’s Don’t Skip Out on Me. It broke my heart.

What gender barriers have you had to hurdle?

I’ve been very lucky not to have faced any. I’ve always worked in environments where my managers have supported and encouraged me. I have worked for some very strong and inspiring women and men, who have mentored me and helped me find the confidence to take the opportunities I’ve been given.

How can the world be made a better place for women?

We’ve come a long way with gender equality, but there’s more to do. Creating the environment for women around the world to have access to education and career opportunities is vital, alongside changing social norms and cultures around equality.

Describe your perfect day?

A sunny blue sky day, a bracing walk on the Cornish coast by the sea, a pub lunch next to a roaring fire, and a couple of hours of uninterrupted reading!

We've noticed there really aren't many (if any) statues of women around Cornwall - who would you see remembered?

I would advocate a statue of Elizabeth Carne, a 19th century scientist who was born near Hayle. She was a geologist, conchologist, philosopher, philanthropist, and banker. Alongside her contributions to science, she funded new schools and other educational support for mining communities and purchased the land to enable the building of St John’s Hall in Penzance. And if that wasn't enough, she was an incredibly talented artist  - many of her drawings and papers are held in the archives of the Morrab Library.

Give us a tip?

Be kind to each other!

About Lisa Lisa Di Tommaso is the Librarian at the Morrab Library in Penzance, the sixth largest independent library in the UK, and now entering its 201st year. Originally from Brisbane, Australia, Lisa moved to London in 2002, working for the National Trust, before becoming a Special Collections Librarian at the Natural History Museum. Prior to moving to Penzance last year, she was the Head of Collections at Durham Cathedral, managing the library, object collections and its new Open Treasure museum.

Links:

www.morrablibrary.org.uk

Email: enquiries@morrablibrary.org.uk

Facebook: The Morrab Library

Twitter: @morrablibrary

Instagram: @morrablibrary


Jessica Layton - Theatre Director & Performer

Photo by Pete Knight

Photo by Pete Knight

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

When I was 20, I travelled to Australia by myself to meet my Dad for the first time. It took a lot of courage for many reasons and I found a strength in me that I didn't know existed.

What motivates you to do what you do?

George Bernard Shaw once said “Without art, the crudeness of reality would make the world unbearable”. I love making people laugh and taking away their problems. This is the main reason I wanted to perform. I love escaping reality and being a different character on stage and sharing that journey with the audience. I am also motivated by young people and believe that drama and performance is key in their development. In this ever growing world of technology, drama in schools is essential in helping to encourage and teach skills such as communication, listening, self awareness, confidence and emotional intelligence.

What do you owe your mother?

Hmmm about £100,000! My mum has taught me to never give up, to always assert myself and to never settle for second best. She is awesome.

Which women inspire you and why?

Michelle Obama - What a formidable, humble and important woman. I love what she is doing for women and girls around the world. Deborah Francis-White - She is a comedian and female activist. She has appeared on comedy panel shows as the only woman and doesn't let the men forget it! I love listening to her podcast 'The Guilty Feminist'. Each week different female comedians discuss what it's like to be a 21st Century feminist and the obstacles we have to face. As well as being brilliantly funny it also highlights serious issues that us women deal with every day. 

What are you reading?

I am a member of the Hypatia Trust’s Young Women’s Book Club and our current book is ‘Evening in Paradise’ by Lucia Berlin.

What gender barriers have you had to hurdle?

There are many barriers in the theatre world and so much is male-dominated. However, I am lucky enough to work with great men who have been nothing but supportive and encouraging in my recent directing venture with Seven Stones Theatre Company.

How can the world be made a better place for women?

We need to make the world a safer place for women. To do this we need to educate children from an early age on what are acceptable and appropriate ways to treat each other. To make the world a safer and better place for women and for everyone, we only need to start small. We must end bullying in schools and we must use education to teach about empathy, love and respect. By doing this, all children will leave schools as equals and have mutual respect for everyone.

Describe your perfect day?

Waking up hangover free (!) on a sunny Sunday in Autumn in a clean and tidy home with Joni Mitchell on full blast. Quick morning yoga, eggs for breakfast, a mug of hot coffee and the crossword. I will gather my best friends for a beach walk and a pub lunch, then drinks and a game of scrabble in front of a cosy fire. I love living in Cornwall and I am so lucky that the sea is right on my doorstep!

We've noticed there really aren't many (if any) statues of women around Cornwall - who would you see remembered?

Rowena Cade. She built The Minack Theatre into the side of a cliff hauling sand up from Porthcurno beach! I am surprised that so many people don’t know of her. She is a legend! 

Give us a tip?

Don’t hold grudges. Accepting and letting go of what has happened in the past will leave room for great things to happen in the present and future. 

About Jess Jessica Layton is a local performer, director and theatre practitioner based in Penzance. Since graduating from Bath Spa School of Music and Performing Arts in 2013 she has been working as an actor with various theatre companies across Cornwall. Her most recent roles include Lady Windermere in 'Lady Winderemere's Fan', Alice in 'The Vicar of Dibley' and Passepartout in 'Around the World in 80 Days'. She is currently directing and performing in 'A Vicar of Dibley Christmas' with Seven Stones Theatre Company at The Acorn Theatre from Wednesday 19th December - Friday 21st December. Tickets are available via this link:  http://www.crbo.co.uk/event/a-vicar-of-dibley-christmas/17149

Yvette Barnett - Travel Photographer & Tour Guide

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What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Being in a position to live my life as I wish without having constraints. I think to achieve a life that you love is an achievement in itself. Also obtaining my pilot’s licence. It was one of the hardest things I have learned to do. Such a steep learning curve. I don’t think I was a natural aviator but I always loved the freedom of being in the air.

What motivates you to do what you do?
I’m lucky to travel the world for my job and even more fortunate to be able to take my camera with me. I love showing people these amazing places in the world and my motivation is to get them to experience the destination and understand the culture - not just visit the country as a voyeur. I’m a big advocate of responsible tourism; I believe it is very important to give something back to local communities that we visit. Although my love is of course to capture the essence of the places I visit with my camera, I think it’s important as travellers that we don’t ‘ruin’ the places we visit. If we can support a local community along the way then this is a real bonus.

I have initiated a few projects via the travel company I work for. They now pay for the electricity for a village in Myanmar and I have also been instrumental in supporting a remote school in the highlands of Peru. There are a couple of other projects I am in the process of getting involved with in Nepal.

What do you owe your mother?
My mother is my best friend. I will be forever thankful that she encouraged me from my early childhood to follow my dreams and live my life in a way that I am true to myself. She encouraged me to ‘do what I love’. I’ve been very fortunate to be able to do just that. I love to travel and I love to take photographs, and my job enables me to do both. I am also indebted to her for the unwavering support she has always given me. She is kind, positive and has good sound values and as such has been a great role model throughout my life.

Which women inspire you and why?
Amelia Earhart - for me the greatest female aviator. Shailee Basnet - Everest Summiteer - and climber of the 7 highest peaks in the world. She is a pioneer of empowering women from rural villages in Nepal who would otherwise be married off at the age of 14. She ‘recruits’ young ladies from the villages, trains them to climb. Contrary to popular opinion, not all people who are born in the Himalayas are climbers! They have to train like everybody else. She inspires them and teaches them that there is much more to life than being a wife and mother in the tiny rural communities where some of them would otherwise have become victims of child trafficking. Some of them have been empowered to set up their own trekking companies - in fact many have become trekking guides for female hiking groups in very much a man’s world.

What are you reading?
Because I travel so much, I tend to read books that I can pick up and put down very easily on long flights when I’m usually exhausted. Right now I’m reading ‘A Thousand Splendid Suns’ by Khaled Hosseini. It makes me want to go to Afghanistan and photograph the country and it’s people. At home by my bed, I’m reading the sonnets by Chilean poet Pablo Neruda. I love the works of Neruda as I travel quite a lot in Chile and Patagonia.

What gender barriers have you had to hurdle?
As a tour guide I travel the world and often in very male dominated cultures. As a female who is in charge of a tour group, I have to encounter male guides / hotel managers / local agents who are unused to and unwilling to take instruction from a woman. This really is the biggest hurdle and at times can be very challenging.

How can the world be made a better place for women?
By empowering them. Giving them a role other than simply becoming a wife. A cook. A Mother. Those are good things but women can do much more than that. Women are great multi-taskers. Great organisers. Educate women. Give them an equal chance to achieve their goals. We don’t have the physical strength of men, there are some jobs I think we just shouldn’t do - for example in a fire there is no way I would be able to carry a large man out of a burning building. And I think we should accept that. However, that is one of the real exceptions. There are not many roles we cannot do equal to that of a man.

Describe your perfect day?
That’s easy!! My perfect day is in Cornwall. I travel the world but home is home!! When I’m back I’m at my happiest when I am rambling across the cliffs with my camera and tripod. I never use a tripod when I travel but it makes me slow down and savour the beautiful rugged landscapes of the Cornish coast. A good walk by the beach. I love the stormy seas of winter and to finish with a simple pub lunch by a cosy log fire with friends. That’s my perfect day!

We've noticed there really aren’t many (if any) statues of women around Cornwall - who would you see remembered?
Rowena Cade has to be top of the list. Her vision to create the Minack Theatre in Porthcurno was just amazing. She did most of the work herself and I think hers is a life to be celebrated. What better way than with a statue to commemorate her vision.

Give us a tip?
Have a dream and follow it. Everything is achievable if you want it badly enough. You just have to find the way and stay true to yourself. If you do a job that you love, you then have self fulfilment. And if you can do a little bit of good along the way, then it’s a win win.

Biography: 
These days I’m a Tour Guide and travel photographer but I started out as a Resort Manager for a large ski company and spent over 10 years working in the ski resorts of Europe and North America. I then studied law at university but in the meantime I did my private pilots licence which made me realise I didn’t want to be a lawyer. I loved my freedom too much. During my time at university, I travelled for a few months in East Africa and wrote about some of my adventures. Wanting to combine my love of travel with a career, I went on to do a Masters in Creative writing. After graduating, I did some freelance travel writing but realising my love was travel, I resumed my life as a Tour Guide and as time has gone on my love of photography has grown and my skill has developed. Nowadays I try to capture these wonderful places with my camera and It gives me huge pleasure to share my images which I hope inspire people to go out there and see the world for themselves and give a little back.


I’ve been very fortunate to visit a few destinations in the early stages of tourism where people have not had much interaction with the rest of the world. The people are so intrigued by us, having never seen people from such an exotic place as England before. I love to return to places and instead of just showing people the image of themselves on the back of my camera, I try to print off my images for them when I return. Recently I won the Picfair / Guardian - Women Behind The Lens 2018 Portrait Award. The award is particularly significant as it was introduced to promote female photographers - who are very under represented in a very male dominated world. My work will be on exhibition at Southwark Cathedral, London in the Refectory from 12th January - 22nd February 2019.

www.yvettebarnettphotography.com

Lynne Dyer - Founder of the Street Food Project, Penzance

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What do you consider your greatest achievement?

My greatest achievement was surviving my childhood.

What motivates you to do what you do?

I feel in these days of so much wealth its a crime that people experience hunger. If we don’t pay attention to climate change and farm our food sustainably, less waste, less greed using less oil we will be forcing more hunger on those around the world, creating more migration as well as creating more poverty at home which in turn creates even more hunger.

What do you owe your mother?

I owe my mother my birth, giving me life to experience this beautiful world we live in. I owe her my strength and determination and never giving up. I owe her my survival skills and how to pick yourself up and focus on your goals.

Which women inspire you and why?

Women who inspire me are Angela Davis, a courageous fighter for human rights who would not lie down and witness to so much atrocity. Wrote ‘Women, Race and Class’.

Vandana Shiva, for being brave enough to stand up to multi nationals after Bhopal about GM and the health risks of globalisation.

What are you reading?

I’m reading ‘Soil and Soul’ at the moment, and have just finished ‘Salt Path’.

What gender barriers have you had to hurdle?

I’m approaching 50 now but when I was a young women I was just seen as a body because I was a woman. I experienced so much sexual harassment on a daily occurrence to be able to break through that I had to kick against society and get angry. When I was 16 and I went to my careers advice session I was told in 1986 in Liverpool I could be one of two things: a secretary or a machinist in a factory. I ran away and became an activist instead.

How can the world be made a better place for women?

Let’s all support women to be the very best that they can be, and this doesn’t mean becoming a high flying lawyer, it means if a woman wants to stay at home and raise her children let’s support her to do that with a decent wage, if a woman at 50 wants to study philosophy let’s support her to do that. Let’s look at society as a whole rather than individuals and their economic value.

Describe your perfect day?

Waking up at sunrise and watching the sun come up wrapped in a blanket with my husband and daughter, listening to the birds wake up. Not having anything in particular to do, slopping around until lunch in our pyjamas then meeting up with a friend and having an epic walk in the countryside with muddy dogs and kids, sharing a flask of chai and ending up in a cosy pub with a fire surrounded by people you love and of course great food. Lying on a blanket and looking up at the stars.

We've noticed there really aren’t many (if any) statues of women around Cornwall - who would you see remembered?

I would like to see a statue to celebrate all Cornish women, every woman should be celebrated for all they do. We should all feel special.

Give us a tip?

My tip would be: buy local, buy it in your local shops and try to reduce plastic. Buy your veg in Thornes or The Granary in a paper bag and not plastic buy at the country Market or the farmers’ market.

Lynne Dyer was born in Liverpool in 1970. In 1986 she moved to London, Stoke Newington and became a squatter before starting to design flyers for Raves, founding a squatters’ food co-op, and running the kitchens in a Hackney pub. In 1990 she went on to study Fine Art foundation, and met her husband two years later. Her travelling organic veggie cafe ‘Tango’ became a Greenpeace flagship at festivals for the NO GMO campaign, and in 1995 Lynne moved from London to Cornwall, lived in a truck, picked flowers, painted, and ran the festival cafe through the summer months. After pursuing a degree in Photography in the Arts and suffering multiple miscarriages, she bought a derelict building and opened Yam Parlour in Penzance. She continued to lose pregnancies, and sold Yam and moved to Hastings to study nutrition whilst working for Primary Care Trust. In 2009 Lynne started working with the Refugee Community Council in Hastings on a kitchen and healthy eating project, worked with a community centre in their kitchens and with children’s centres for healthy eating, worked with lots of organic farmers in Hastings and the surrounding area to set up Vibrant Harvest Veg Box, and begun IVF treatment which led to the birth of her daughter. 6 weeks later they were back in Cornwall and Lynne started the Pram Parlour cafe for parents and children in local church hall. In 2014 she set up Growing Links with Dax Ansell, and two years later took a group of people to work in the Jungle in Calais for the refugee community kitchen. Since then, battling two heart attacks along the way, she’s taken charge of The Community Garden and PEaT Project, and started the Street Food Project in Penzance, and Famallot.

Growing Links

The P.E.a.T. Project

Street Food Project, Penzance

Caroline Davey - Director of Fat Hen, the Wild Cookery School

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What do you consider your greatest achievement?

My three beautiful children and setting up my business alongside being a mum.

What motivates you to do what you do?

A desire for a deep nature connection, a desire to be independent and have freedom to create my own work, to share my love of food and nature with others and to be flexible around my children so I can be there for them at the end of the school day too.

What do you owe your mother?

A love of food and travel. I grew up with good home cooking and spent my childhood abroad in Hong Kong and Botswana. I travelled a lot before I was 12 and got to see different cultures at a young age. I still have this wanderlust to see the world.

Which women inspire you and why?

I am very inspired by Mhairi Black, the young female Scottish National Party MP.  She became an MP whilst still an undergraduate and is one of the youngest MPs there have been. I admire her passion and confidence and her common sense. She’s has scathing views of Westminster and is prepared to state how outdated and sexist the ‘Old boys Club’ is. She inspires me because she’s prepared to stick her neck out for her beliefs and is really out there to help people less fortunate in our society. I love the fact that she’s a woman, very young and so clearly unintimidated by the old dinosaurs in Westminster twice and three times her age.

What are you reading?

I’ve just started reading a book about seaweed. It’s pretty dry and academic but on a subject that totally fascinates me. It’s called ‘Seaweed in Health and Disease Prevention.’ The potential of seaweeds to be used for food and to contribute to the prevention of western diseases is a subject that has enormous potential. We have an extensive resource here in Cornwall but have not had much of a seaweed industry or recent tradition of eating it. Other coastal communities around the world including Ireland, Scotland and Wales have had hundreds, if not thousands of years of including seaweeds in their diets and have had a traditional knowledge of their health giving properties. This knowledge is now being backed up by scientific research which is very exciting. The potential for preventative and supportive treatment of cancers, diabetes and heart disease with seaweeds is gaining increased momentum. Both my parents had cancer in their 40s. My father died of bowel cancer age 44 and my mother had breast cancer at 45 (she is still alive at 80) so this subject is very close to my heart.

What gender barriers have you had to hurdle?

Navigating the landscape of being a working mother has been my biggest challenge. I didn’t feel any gender hurdles in my career prior to being a mum but now I feel it all the time. My life completely changed when I became a mum and I have had to design my work and business around being ultimately flexible around the children. I had no idea how polarised life would become once being a mum.

How can the world be made a better place for women?

If we can change the way the media portrays women and their bodies this would help go some way in making women of all ages feel okay to be who they are. Women’s magazines continue to fuel this depressing message that if only our bellies were flatter or boobs were bigger or bum was more toned we’d all be happier and more accepted. I worry for my teenage daughter being bombarded by this imagery. It seems to be getting worse and with women’s bodies being photoshopped to perfection then the images are not only damaging but totally unreal and unattainable. If you took these magazines seriously you’d think that the only aim for us as women is to achieve the perfect bikini body. I don’t think I can recall any magazine cover that celebrates the amazing achievements or qualities of women.

Describe your perfect day?

A sunny day on the beach with friends and family, sunset surf in small waves, fire on the beach, supper on the fire (preferably fish we’ve caught ourselves!), hot chocolate, home to bed.

We've noticed there really aren't many (if any) statues of women around Cornwall - who would you see remembered?

Rowena Cade who had the vision to build the Minack theatre and who did much of the work herself.  To create such a unique place and to provide millions of people with culture and entertainment is a huge achievement and should be celebrated and remembered.

Helen Glover for her amazing sporting achievements. (double olympic champion 2012, 2016).

Caroline Davey grew up in Hong Kong, England and Botswana and travelled the world as a child experiencing the awe inspiring beauty of nature in its many guises.

'I naturally wanted a career that led me to nature and after gaining a BSc. in Zoology followed by a masters degree in Environmental Impact Assessment I had a career for 12 years as an ecological consultant, 11 of which were at CEC Ltd in Cornwall.This career took me to all of Cornwall’s wild landscapes to record and document habitats and species. I honed my plant identification skills during this time and developed a deeper understanding of the impacts of farming and development on our natural ecosystems. I spent over a decade advising land owners and developers on wildlife conservation issues. Although I loved my job I began to feel it was missing a vital element. I wanted an interactive and deeper relationship with nature. I didn’t just want to know what these plants were and if they were rare or not, I wanted to know what they meant to us and what they could be useful for. So, after dabbling in wild food for 10 years, I took the plunge and set up Fat Hen. For the first 12 months I supplied restaurants but after seeing all the seasons through, on my hands and knees, realised that I wanted to be with other people enjoying it together.'

http://www.fathen.org/

Rupam Baoni, Writer and Artist

Rupam Baoni.JPG

  

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

The smaller triumphs contribute to the complete oeuvre comprising one’s life and its greater achievements. No happiness is complete or accomplishment laudable unless it stands upon a foundation of contentment and peace in our everyday lives. For a woman especially this is not just paramount but also a primal need because she shuttles between various domestic commitments alongside her idealistic ones. The family, friends, their health and well being, my receptiveness to the world around me, my energy to love and be in love after all these years… and then yes, to find that an odd poem of mine, a piece of writing or artwork has touched a spot in someone’s life, or has taken on its own mysterious flight and is resonant with them: all this put together would perhaps be my greatest achievement at the end of the day.

What motivates you to do what you do?

I struggle with the word motivation because over the years I’ve realised that disciplining myself to working consistently everyday helps me in becoming sentient to those higher moments that might startlingly present themselves to me in the midst of it all. Having said that it is also true that tiny things like seeing sunlight filter through an autumn tree, smoke rising from the chimney of a house I might pass on a train journey, a chance meeting with someone extraordinary in the most ordinary of circumstances, a word or sentence I hear or read somewhere – all this too does stimulate me into writing or painting or carving something that may or may not have anything to do with whatever incited it in the first place. I guess it is this energy pulsating everywhere – in nature, in places, in people, their pains, hopes, emotions, the stories or songs throbbing within them – which touches me intensely, impelling me to write, paint or carve.

What do you owe your mother?

My mother is the organic force in my life. There is nothing false or pretentious about her and there are no embellishments lining her speech. She has taught me the value of honesty, of simplicity, of living within one’s means and maintaining equilibrium in life, love and relationships, of the importance of being orderly and of decluttering my outer world so I may explore freely the convolutions within in my search for that higher truth, whatever medium I might choose to work with.

Which women inspire you and why?

 Gosh so many of them! Frida Kahlo in her re-birthing of herself after her accident, pursuing relentlessly her colours despite her multiple surgeries and the debilitating pains she had to live with all her life and most of all drawing from those very moments of darkness her stimulus to paint; Barbara Hepworth in her tenacity to seek the truth despite all odds in her domestic life as well as from her male counterparts; Maya Angelou’s wildfire heart, the fearlessness that bristles through her works; Kiran Bedi, the first woman IPS officer in India who has combined so beautifully, policing with kindness, empathy, reintegration, in her correctional approach to handling prisoners and other offenders; then also a very dear friend of mine who fights her  MS valiantly everyday and finds new hope and laughter in all of life …oh the names could go on forever from the past or those forming the fabric of our daily lives– in their grit, their dedication, their strength to embrace their many other commitments alongside what they’ve set out to achieve. I am inspired by women who can pursue their higher goals without disregarding the beauty of womanhood in all its compassion and tenderness.

What are you reading?

Apart from those countless research books on Barbara Hepworth and twentieth century art and artists related to my current project, I am dipping in and out of Pablo Neruda’s “100 Love Sonnets”, each poem of which startles me every time I read it in either its sensuousness or his ability to grab one’s guts and seek out the visceral. One other book that is my constant companion is the Bhagwad Gita, which I feel is a great manual for daily living and thankfully with no religious affinities. It talks simply about the value of performing one’s tasks consistently and to the utmost without the desire of an outcome.

What gender barriers have you had to hurdle?

There are not very many really mentionable instances except back in the Nineties after my first book was published and well-received that a much older and established poet/poetry editor of a prestigious publication house whom I had long admired, hugely praised my writings (which was indeed flattering to a twenty year old), luring me with the prospect of publishing my second collection before beginning to make inappropriate advances to me. I did of course reject his offer of publication but remember being shaken up tremendously and disillusioned for quite some time after that about the power that men held, the status of women in society and this lack of recognising a woman’s merit in view of her physical attributes. Incidents like this I guess prepare us for a life of future hurdles and make us strong but I worry for the younger girls everywhere who are vulnerable.

How can the world be made a better place for women?

If any human being or creature is discriminated against or not respected as an equal being then we certainly cannot call ourselves evolved people living in a civilised world. A sense of respect and equality needs to be inculcated in the minds of all people and from the very beginning. For this I think it is imperative we take parenthood very seriously and have children only when we’re committed to nurturing them well and into individuals who have developed a sound rational mind that can perceive and distinguish between right from wrong, even challenge us when we are wrong. It has been established that most people inclined to certain behavioural patterns, to criminal acts, paraphilic and other disorders or those harbouring prejudices towards others are merely acting upon instincts, scars, habits developed in early childhood. When children experience warmth, love, confidence, respect and equality towards all at home, they will carry that respect along with them in later life. Having said that I do feel that the world is improving tremendously with every generation. The inequalities and biases that our grandparents and parents grew up with were righted somewhat among our generation and our children seem to be so much fairer and evolved compared to us. I have great hope in the world being a much better place in their hands.

Describe your perfect day?

Early morning start with yoga, meditation, a brisk walk in the park or the woodlands nearby (and feel the life-force everywhere) before sitting down to a creatively productive day that winds up with a girly heart-to-heart with my daughter back at university, a quick catch-up with my parents about their well-being and that of my family back in India, then finally curling up over a quiet mug of evening tea with my husband, listening to music we both love or just being – that’s when I know all’s right with the world – and my day complete. 

We've noticed there really aren’t many (if any) statues of women around Cornwall - who would you see remembered?

I don’t know about statues really (because I feel statues tend to distance the glorified one from the onlooker) but I would very much like the works of many of these remarkable women living here over the ages, recognised and disseminated everywhere – the Cornish beaches, libraries, schools, parks, town centres, public places etc. in the form of their sculptures, books, plays, pieces of music, their poetry or words inscribed and for all to absorb –so their spirit transfers itself to that of the places and reminds all that these were great women living here, and that there are great women everywhere in our own mothers, daughters, spouses, who possess exceptional talents and need to be recognized and celebrated just as Barbara Hepworth, Rowena Cade, Dora Russell and others were.

Give us a tip?

Writing: When the words refuse to come, write down the most honest sentence that comes to mind…and the skein begins to unravel, liberating those primordial truths trapped within.

Painting: Let your colours sing, fight, dance with each other… because from midst that riot will emerge the perfect harmony.

Stone: Hold it in the palm of your hand and sit still until its pulse falls in step with yours and you’re a part of the matrix… in flesh, blood, soul.

… and finally, a poem dedicated to women.

ultimate form

when you made me

you plucked fires from

furnaces, wove them into the

windstorms and drew

my breath. You tipped fronds

filled with dew, carried

back and forth palmfuls from

rivulets and bathed

me, forehead down, to allow

the bleeding. You dug

out strips of earth, carved my

shoulders, breasts and

innards to give me form. From

the morning Sun you drew

the colours and gave me light

so I might love

Rupam Baoni is a critically acclaimed writer and artist living in London and distributes her time between writing, painting, sculpting and service towards pertinent social causes. Her poems, short stories and essays appear in literary journals and newspapers. Her first book of poems Green Red and Amber, published at the age of nineteen prompted positive reviews in leading literary magazines and newspapers. She was youngest of twenty-one international poets invited to prestigious poetry readings alongside the US Poet Laureate Donald Hall, Jane Kenyon and others of repute and has since then attended many literary festivals, seminars and conferences. She gives talks on art, philosophy and organizes workshops on painting, art appreciation and creative writing around UK and India. A huge admirer of the sculpture, philosophy, and (globally undervalued) vision of Barbara Hepworth’s, she is currently working on a book that delves into the psychological and sensual aspects of the sculptor’s works and workmanship, apart from getting together a new collection of poems, essays, short stories.

“When I was writer-in-residence at the Hypatia Trust for nearly a month in September 2009, I fell deeply in love with Cornwall. It has since then become a second home for me and I keep going back whenever I can to its startling stretches of blues, greens, umbers, its beautiful people, its raw energy that is enticing in a visceral sort of manner. I find poems buried beneath its stones, paintings splashed over its cliff-tops and sculptures carving its landforms. Also, my research work on Hepworth in and around Cornwall has been a fascinating journey and I can so well relate to Barbara Hepworth’s love and connection to the place being the outsider that she was and yet feeling that twinge whenever she had to leave it, even if it was for a short time.”

www.rupambaoni.com