Votes for Women – Pamela Drew

Shell Postcard, Votes for Women 1908, Suffragettes 1908
Shell Postcard, Votes for Women, 1908

To mark the centenary in 2018 of ‘Votes for Women’ the Shell Heritage Art Collection will be highlighting female artists from our collection who have played strong, leading roles in their professions of commercial and fine art. These women helped to create change within their industry and society as a whole.

The Representation of the People Act 1918 allowed some of the women of Great Britain and Ireland to vote for the first time. The act meant that women over the age of 30 could vote, but only if they were either a member, or married to a member of the Local Government Register, a property owner, or a graduate voting in a University constituency.  The 1928 Act widened suffrage by giving women electoral equality with men. It gave the vote to all women over 21 years old, regardless of property ownership. The call for the vote for women was led by a group of strong, inspiring women known as the Suffragettes.

Pamela Drew 1910 – 1989

Shell Poster 466 John Knox Monument, Pamela Drew, 1936
John Knox Monument, Pamela Drew, 1936

Born in Burnley, Lancashire, Pamela studied in London at the Grosvenor School of Modern Art and then in Paris. She painted the ‘John Knox Monument’ poster for Shell in 1936 as part of the Visit Britain campaign. This series of posters by Shell showcased interesting follies and landscapes from across the country as means of encouraging motorists to get out in their cars and see Britain.

The following year, in 1937 Pamela married Lord Rathdonnell, who was a good friend of her brother. They moved to the family seat in Lisnavagh, Ireland.  Interestingly the writer John Betjeman, who edited the Shell County Guides during the 1930s, is recorded as visiting their home in Ireland in 1941.

Pamela Drew copyright Illustrated London News Ltd/Mary Evans

During the Second World War Pamela served as an Officer in the Wrens for the RAF Coastal Command in Plymouth. Her experience here led to her being commissioned to record RAF activities in Kenya and the Middle East.

These works were exhibited in London in 1956 at the Imperial Suite in South Kensington. Some of these works are now held in the Government Art Collection alongside her paintings ‘Coronation Night, Buckingham Palace’ 1953 and ‘Departure of HM Queen Elizabeth II on the Royal Tour’ 1954.







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