Trying to lose the long frock I started considering what types of employment might be available to a woman without a skirt. I thought about the circus, acting and music hall. Music hall developed out of entertainment in public houses during the time frame I’m looking at so it seemed apt.
I thought that a music hall dancer (not the sort of thing a nice middle class family would consider acceptable for their daughter) could be used in teetotal literature to present a character that had started on the slippery slope of drinking and had to take such employment or alternatively as someone whose choice of employment might have set her off on that route.
Actresses and entertainers, in some respectable circles, were considered as synonymous with prostitutes but I thought that they could be written/talked about in a way that ‘fallen women’ couldn’t. On a frivolous level I thought visually they would be more interesting and after all I am making children’s toys (sort of).
I’ve developed a dancer, dressed as a soldier, monoprinted,
Toy puppets of music hall dancers don’t necessarily fit the brief of ‘teetotal’ but I think I can manage that.
The teetotal movement made use of both printed ephemera, (certificates to the band of hope etc) and morally improving literature to get their point across. So my dancers will come with a booklet or broadsheet telling the story of Gentleman Jim’s Daughters.