Lynda Monk

I am a mixed-media textile artist, tutor and author who likes to stitch, burn and melt materials such as Kunin Felt, Tyvek and Lutradur, adding acrylic mediums to create textured, unusual and exciting surfaces.

For me, the satisfaction comes from sample making, discovering new techniques and creating unusual fabrics.

These are then used as backgrounds to stitch into or as pieces to be displayed as they are.

At this moment in time I seem to be leaning more towards wearable art, especially costumes and accessories influenced by the Steam Punk movement.

Bridging the Gap

A fascination with the Victorian Era found me searching for an inspirational woman from this period to base my research on for the next EAST exhibition ‘Bridging the Gap’.

I came across Baroness Angela Georgina Burdett-Coutts. She was a philanthropist which fitted in very well with my topic of the Victorian poor.

In 1837 the Baroness became the richest woman in England when she was the sole beneficiary of her fathers will to the tune of £1.7 million, the equivalent of around £200 million in todays money.

When she was 67 she shocked polite society by marrying her 29 year old secretary, American-born William Lehman Ashmead Bartlett who became MP for Westminster on 12 February 1881. Because of her husband’s American birth a clause in her step-grandmothers will forbidding her heir to marry a foreign national was invoked resulting in the Baroness having to forfeit 3/5ths of her income to her sister.

Burdett-Coutts spent the majority of her wealth on scholarships, endowments and a wide range of philanthropic causes. One of her earliest acts was to co-found, with Charles Dickens, a home for young women who had turned to a life of immorality, including theft and prostitution.She was co-founder of The London Ragged School Union which were charitable organizations dedicated to the free education of destitute children but also of the NSPCC founded in 1884.Other causes for the poor were a sewing school for women in Spitalfields when the silk trade declined and the placement of hundreds of destitute boys in training ships for the navy and merchant service.

Becoming immersed in what the 1st Baroness achieved for the Victorian poor and destitute my research then led me into child labour, child prostitution, workhouses and baby farmers focusing on the most infamous of all the baby farmers, Amelia Dyer.
Each baby had been strangled with white tape, which as she later told the police ‘was how you could tell it was one of mine’. The bodies were then wrapped in parcel paper and thrown into the Thames.In the summer of 1896, 57 year old Amelia Dyer was executed for the murder of a baby girl. It was a simple charge. The bodies of six more babies had been found, and further evidence pointed to at least 12 murders. Some experts have attributed more than 400 deaths to her.