Archives for posts with tag: Bridport

After reading the post about Norah, my uncle Martin who has researched the family tree sent me an interesting email with more information about Norah which also corrects dates and facts especially that she left for Canada not America and it was before World War One. It reassured me that Betty went to family, just not blood relations. But it also raised questions about a mysterious Joyce who no one had spoken about. Norah had another daughter who was older than Betty. Was she not spoken about because she was born out-of-wedlock? Was her father Fred Newman (Norah’s husband) or someone else? What happened to Joyce – had she died as a child or did she remain in Canada? Martin doesn’t know what happened to Joyce as his mother (my granny) never mentioned her at all, and Norah’s sister (my great-granny) was very secretive about certain things.

Ethel Norah Ellery was born in 1891. Her name is on a school register near Milton Keynes. He mother died in February 1898 and in April she was bundled off from Dorset to this location. In the 1901 census she and her siblings are shown to be staying with the woman who was to become their step-mother while their father was working in the South Wales coalfields.

According to the 1911 census she was working as a kitchen maid for a doctor and his family who lived in Dinton, Wiltshire (about 5 miles SW of Stonehenge). Her age was given as 20. According to the 1921 Canadian census, she was married to Frederick Alfred Newman and had a daughter aged 6 called Joyce. Her age (and her husband’s age) was given as 32. The census also gave the year of her arrival in Canada as 1911. Fred Newman’s age was also given as 32 and he too arrived in Canada 1911. The Quebec marriage registers show that they were married in 1917 with Fred’s occupation given as ‘Private in Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry’.

I understand from Granny Mom that Fred was gassed during WWI so when Betty came over, he was not a well man. I believe that Betty was born in 1922, the same year as Granny Mom. I have not found Joyce’s birth certificate, nor have I found the birth certificate of Betty nor have I have found death certificates for anybody, either in British, Canadian or Australian records. Granny Mom’s cousin Betty married a Thomas Cousins in 1944. They emigrated to Australia where, in about 1962, she died of cancer, aged 40, leaving a husband and five children. According to Granny Mom, the ‘family friend’ was great-grandad’s brother and sister-in-law (Granny Mom’s Uncle Harry) who had five sons and who always wanted a daughter. (Norah was great-granny’s niece by blood, not great-grandad’s niece).

Somehow Norah aged 12 years between 1911 and 1921! It is well-known that some women ‘forget’  birthdays, but gaining two is pretty rare. I suspect that when she ran away to Canada, she lied about her age, adding two years so that she did not need parental consent. Great-Granny always told me that Norah was born in 1889, keeping up the pretence.

Author: Martin Vlietstra

The artwork is complete save for a trip to the framers.
“Father had one week of holiday a year at the beginning of August and as a family we would go to West Bay each day to camp in our tent. Every day, Mother packed delicious food for the day and we would set off for our destination, 1½ miles away. Father cycled while Mother and we four girls could choose to walk or catch the bus. If we walked, we had enough money to buy chocolate, which we made last by eating one square of chocolate per field. Father spent time fishing on his boat and even taught us to swim in the harbour. Our expectations were different then and yet not so much has changed. Children still love the sun, the sand and frolicking on the beach. The sounds of seagulls, waves and excited high-pitched voices are the same.”

Wondering what this is about? Click here to find out more about this project.

Detail - It is hard to see on screen but I love the way the photos melt and blur into the paper

Placing the first layer (feather monoprint) and preparing the photographic images

Sticking the first layer (feather monoprint) and preparing the photographic images

I have printed the photographic images onto Chinese rice paper using a laser printer – and almost destroying my printer as the rice paper is soft and not designed to be fed through it. So that the ink won’t dissolve when glue is applied, the images need to be fixed by spraying layers of Lascaux. I started gluing layers onto the base paper working very calmly and slowly when no children were around. As soon as you apply glue to the paper it becomes like wet tissue paper, is very difficult to handle and almost impossible to reposition, so learn to love the odd crease. I found that photographic images can’t be realigned at all because the ink starts to seep through even though I used fixative. I worked slowly but as efficiently as possible and then put it aside to dry. Wondering what this is about? Click here to find out more about this project.

Working at my desk on a rough composition

Time to stop conceptualising and start designing. To create original art works, I use a combination of designing on the computer to create a rough composition but nothing beats printing out the components and playing with them on a sheet of paper. I will make use of monoprint textures of nets and feathers. Feathers create a delicate texture and are also reminiscent of the flotsam and jetsam found on the beach. Rope and net-making was one of the chief industries of Bridport and in fact my grandmother’s first job was in Gundry’s office at the age of 14. Gundry still supply ropes, nets and twine and are still based in Bridport. I am also using holiday photos (then and now) printed onto Chinese rice paper which softens and dissolves the image.