The Dry Cleaning Ladies
Oil on Panel 12x12
Tribute to all working-class women. The lower working class were distinguished from the upper by having less education, no pretensions to gentility, fewer resources or opportunities and, in some cases, simply less luck. Unlike many other towns, Hastings had no large industry except fishing, a male occupation. Some women prepared and sold fish, or made and repaired nets, but most lower-working class women were engaged in servicing the wealthy residents and visitors in one way or another.
Roughly half of all employed women in Hastings were in domestic service. Others were barmaids, waitresses and chambermaids. In 1860 there were strikes by some of the town's washerwomen..
While 'upper' working class women rented shops, the 'lower' hawked on the streets and beaches. They sold flowers, toffee apples, ice cream, cold drinks, shrimps, oysters and whelks, and offered donkey and goat rides and even fortune-telling, sometimes by budgerigar.