Lively ladies

Lilian Bland preparing for take off

Lively ladies sounds so much more alluring than likely lads, doesn’t it. Smacks of cancan and Toulouse Lautrec. But in this case it’s paint and engine oil.

Lively lady No.1 – Lilian Bland

Lilian comes courtesy of Grannymar, who tells a lovely story about the first woman to design, build and fly her own aeroplane. The pioneering aviatrix (1877-1972) was originally from the south east of England, but she spread her wings in, round and over Carnmoney in County Antrim in the north east of Ireland.

This excerpt from Grannymar’s post gives you a flavour of Lilian Bland’s character:

She was so keen to fly that she came over to England to pick up the engine and took it a back on the train with her.   Once home in Ireland, there was no petrol tank so she used an empty whiskey bottle and her aunt’s ear trumpet.

You can’t beat that. And to put the Wright brothers to shame, the field that served as her runway was shared with an aggressive bull – to give her extra incentive to get aloft. Her aircraft was called the Mayfly (“may fly, may not fly“) and took off with four police officers hanging on to the wings. When the wings caught the wind, all four officers dropped off, leaving only the fifth ballast person, the garden boy, holding on as the plane rose. At that point it was a glider, but later added an engine and powered flight (ear trumpet and all) followed. Apart from the aviation, she got up to all sorts of other stuff too. What a woman! 

Lively Lady – No.2 DINDIN

No , neither of those are of or by DINDIN. But the two-dimensional women showing off on that wall in Teignmouth did point me round a corner to… Pasties! Sorry, got distracted for a moment. Second-hand bookshop! No – a friendly gallery displaying the picture below.

Such lively cheeriness. Took me a while to track down the artist. She’s from Leuven in Belgium and goes by the name DINDIN. I don’t know much about her, but she’s a dab hand with aerosol cans knocking up street art. And, and… I want it.

PS – Update on East v West – courtesy of Popbitch

Apparently, “the west of cities in the Northern Hemisphere are posher than the east because the winds blow west to east – i.e. back in the Industrial Revolution pollution drifted eastwards.” So notch up another point to the West – or is that the other way round?

DINDIN at work at UpFest in Bristol, 2011 - that's the nearest you're getting to seeing what she looks like herself.

PPS – The Day I Met…

I have had some corking entries for the highly prestigious “The Day I Met…” guest post competition. Thank you very much to those who have been in touch already. See here for how easy it is to enter and the jaw-dropping (well, it’ll be a book) prize that will be yours when you do. In a nutshell, all you need to do is email me ( paulwaters99 @ ) a short account of the time you met someone in the public  eye and what happened – especially if it’s funny or something went wrong. I’ll give it a little longer and then begin to post the stories, one a week, and get back in touch with the guest posters about their trophies.



Filed under art, history

11 responses to “Lively ladies

  1. Women’s aviation history is remarkable and great reads about brave and determined people

  2. It is hard to credit that DINDIN’s work is all done with spray paint. The only time I used spray paint was on fabric and it was never as smoothly blended as she managed to make it look.

    The sculpture that led me to research Lilian Bland, will be officially unveiled and the park renamed today. I hope the rain dries up for the duration.

  3. Barbara Rodgers

    Nothing like a lively lady following her heart! Enjoyed their stories!

  4. One of my clients mother recently passed away — she was just short of 100 years old and one of the first FEMALE barnstormers — stunt pilot and aerialist. I never got to meet the mom (I’ve seen photographs), but the stories the daughter has shared are jaw-dropping!

  5. There can’t have been much crime in those days if they could spare four police officers to hang on to a plane. And I wonder if they volunteered for such a dangerous duty or whether they were under orders. All I can say is, Lilian Bland was a remarkably adventurous and rebellious woman at a time when a woman’s place was still seen as the kitchen.

  6. Thank you for the attention!
    Maybe one day i can use my designs and spraycans on a plane …that would be awesome 🙂

  7. Effectively put from an excellent blogger

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