Sunday, July 28, 2013

Night Witches

A friend alerted me to this recent article in The Atlantic about Russian women pilots of World War II. 

The asinine comments at the bottom of the article are best ignored but the video link is really worth watching. The English sub-titles are strange but you’ll get the gist of it. Extraordinary what these brave young women barely out of school accomplished and in such flimsy aircraft.

Some more details here. (Note: this is an archived website and the links in it don’t work.)

Although one might expect most books about these women to be in Russian, such as We were Called Night Witches by Irina Rakobolskaya and Natalya Kravtsov, there are a surprising number of others in English on the subject. 

These include Wings, Women & War by Reina Pennington, Night Witches: The Amazing Story of Russia’s Women Pilots in World War II by Bruce Myles and another another by one of the pilots, Anna Yegorova, entitled Red Sky Black Death.

Two Russian stamps featuring Marina Raskova

And with the serendipity of such research, I came across another fascinating woman - Anne Noggle who also wrote a book A Dance with Death about these Soviet women pilots and had been a Captain in the US Air Force. 

Later Noggle became better known as a photographer, specialising in images on ageing women and the “saga of fallen flesh”.

This is another of Noggle’s striking images called Vertical Stance and it has an undeniable flying/feminist message!  (New Mexico Museum of Art)

 Vertical Stance (from the series Earthbound - plate 26), 1979. Anne Noggle.
Chromogenic print; 12 7/8 x 9 inches. Collection of the New Mexico Museum of Art. 
Gift of Patrick Nagatani, 2008

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Rajah Quilt

A new book Patchwork Prisoners has just been published by Research Tasmania

It tells the remarkable story of the convict women who created "the Rajah Quilt" which is now a treasured possession of the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra.
The Rajah Quilt

This unique quilt was made with materials supplied by the great social reformer Elizabeth Fry to the convict women on board the ship Rajah in 1841 and when completed was presented to Lady Jane Franklin, wife of the then Lieutenant-Governor of Van Diemen's Land (later Tasmania) Sir John Franklin.

The quilt was returned to England at some stage (Elizabeth Fry had died by 1845) and its whereabouts remained unknown until it was rediscovered in an attic in a house in Scotland in 1987. 

Available from Research Tasmania

As to exactly which women from the Rajah were involved in the quilt's creation is still something of a mystery, but no doubt many Australians are descended from some of them. 

An article from newspaper The Australian here.

The quilt is currently part of an exhibition at the Queensland Art Gallery featuring quilts from the Victoria & Albert Museum in London.

More about the quilt including a short video on the National Gallery of Australia website.