Museum at Home

24 May 2021

Women in the Mines

J.P. Foscolo ‘Native girls, working at the asbestos Mines, Troodos, Cyprus’, 1922, Costas and Rita Severis Foundation Collection

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J.P. Foscolo was a professional photographer who came to Cyprus in 1878, the year in which the British took over the island’s administration. He chose Limassol as his home and opened a photography studio on Victorias Street. We are lucky he chose to live in Cyprus because through his photographs we get to learn a lot about the daily lives and social gatherings of people in his time.

Activity one: We the miners!

Did you know that…

Many million years ago, Troodos, the largest mountain range of Cyprus, began to rise from the depths of the sea very slowly and gradually. This made all the metals and the other minerals inside the mountains come to the surface. You have surely heard about copper, which gave its name to our island. You might have also learned about how competent ancient Cypriots were in metallurgy and in processing copper. Another mineral whose value Cypriots recognised from early on, besides copper, was asbestos. The girls in the photo worked at an asbestos mine.

Now think about this:

  • Do you think it was easy to work at the mines 100 years ago?
  • What do you think these women in the photograph are doing?
  • What kinds of tools are they using?
  • What would you ask them if you could?

Now listen to Anna’s story: she is one of the girls in this photograph. HERE

* This is a fictional  narrative based on historical information

Activity two: Observe and find   

You have two minutes to look closely at this photograph!

Your time starts… now!

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Can you:

…Count how many women appear in this photograph

…Find a white handkerchief

…Find a basket full of asbestos

…Count the pickaxes

…Find a woman wearing a bracelet

…Find a woman with her face covered

…Find a smiling woman

…Count the boots

…Find a tree trunk

…Find a woman looking to the right

Activity three: Our heroines

Did you know that…

On March 8th we celebrate National Women’s Day to honour the struggles of the women who fought for their rights and also honour the daily struggles of all the women around us.

If we look at the paintings and photographs in the museum’s collection we can see that women in the 19th century used to work very hard to support their families by doing all sorts of manual work, while also working at home and raising children.

  • Now, observe these photographs and paintings from the CVAR collection and give each one a title.

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5. Women in the mines - museum at home - PNT-00280 Ismet Guney Women in Mesaoria ca 1950.png

6. Women in the mines - museum at home - PNT- 00396 Gladys Peto 1890-1977 Amiandos. The Mountain women wear their hair draped about with a black handkerchief-cottages below Amiandos. 1926 chinese ink.png

7. Women in the mines - museum at home - PNT-00459 Rudyerd Barrows Reginald 1848-1888 Woman spinning cotton Kikopatria 1888 watercolour 14 x 10 cm.png

8. Women in the mines - museum at home - PNT-00758 Esmonde White Eleanor 1914-2007 Cypriot Women.png

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Now think of this:

  • Who is your own woman hero?
  • What would you do to show your love and appreciation to her?

We have an idea!

Foscolo’s photograph is actually a postcard. HERE you can download the outline of a postcard: you can glue on it the photograph of your own woman hero or make a drawing of her on one side and write a few words to her on the other side. Then glue together the two pieces and your postcard is ready! Give it with love and a big hug to the woman hero of your life!

You can send us a photograph of your postcard at education@severis.org

This week’s challenge

Our challenge for this week is, what else, a visit to the village of Amiantos and to the Troodos geopark. You can visit the geopark with your family, see the place where the mines used to be and learn about their history and the thousands of people that used to work there in the 20th century.

*Let’s visit the museum*

In honour of Women’s Day you can visit the museum along with your family and look for paintings that feature hard-working women of the past.

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