Revolutionary mother

Mamin most

I posted about a website full of great Russian illustrated children’s books before. I pour over these book sites. Enjoying and indulging in the images, the connoisseurship that formed these sorts of collections. And – because I have worked on digitisation projects myself – I pour forth professional respect for the getting of this material online in the first place.

One of my favourite illustrations on this particular website is this one of a woman drawing. For starters it’s a great illustration. Painterly and detailed. Her red cheek reminds me of the Russian Matryoshka dolls. But what I really love is what she is doing: a big, fat complicated technical drawing.

Published in 1933 the book’s title Mamin Most translates as Mummy’s Bridge. So we assume she is working up a drawing of part of her bridge. This is one of several books illustrated on the site showing ‘women’s involvement in every aspect of construction – as lathe operators, metal workers, engineers, crane operators and builders.’ Great stuff.

It’s a rather lovely turnabout to see images from the period with women portrayed as something other than a flapper, a lamp base or fashion clotheshorse. Although I do like those images too, its true. I took technical drawing a long time ago. In fact I was the only girl ever to do it in my school despite it being the 1980s. From the compass to the setsquare, via a section through a screw thread, it was a fascinating thing to do.

Mamin Most cover

Promoting a revolutionary role for women for political ends this book may be. But what a contrast to the sort of sugary pink sweetness of The English Roses and titles like that. Imagine asking for the one about ‘mother the civil engineer’ in Waterstones. I think I might try it.

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