Mother and daughter artists Ellen and Rolinda Sharples lived through turbulent times on both sides of the Atlantic during the Georgian era. For a woman to become a professional artist was a radical act, for a blacksmith’s daughter like Ellen it is unique in the history of art.
They sailed from Bristol to America, part of a wave of emigrants seeking opportunity in the Land of the Free. Ellen survived capture at sea and painted some of the most significant people of the time including the first five US presidents. She trained her daughter Rolinda to become a painter, despite her being shunned by her male peers, and she founded an Academy of Art in Bristol, where for the first time women could train on equal terms with men. The event will be illustrated with clips from a film starring Toyah Willcox, made for HTV West.