In correspondence with my mother

This is a research project, made in correspondence with my mother.

The Dinner Ladies

According to Rose (2010) personal family photography define key moments of achievement, such as births, weddings and marriages, when changes are memorialised through photography. These rituals and moments that we chose memorialise are mostly around noteworthy events. In addition, we celebrate and memorialise role high profile models such as political and media figures. For example, I was recently part of the #209women project which celebrates 100 years since women have had the vote and how there is a large percentage of female MPs contributing to the political decisions made in the United Kingdom. This was a fantastic opportunity to contribute to current living document that captures and records women in politics today. There are less images that document and highlight invaluable professions such as Dinner Ladies and Cleaners. These professions are frequently unnoticed and uncelebrated. Could we organise our thinking to highlight and celebrate these invisible professions? How could this inform our thinking socially and culturally?

This work is made in correspondence with my mother. It is inspired by a selection of photographic images of my nan (that is my mother’s mother) and some of her work colleagues. They were Dinner Ladies. I am curious about these images. They belong to my mother and have now been passed onto me. The images feature my nan and the dinner ladies she was working with at Rhoose School, South Wales. My grandmother (nan) left school at 16 with limited options of how to earn a living. She was a Dinner Lady for twenty-five years. My mother is uncertain exactly when the images were taken, but we know it was taken somewhere between 1954 and 1979 when my nan worked as dinner lady. My mother remembers one key point when looking at this image. That is, the introduction of the equal pay act in 1970. At this point dinner ladies and dustman were put on the same pay grade.