A history of women in graphics in Britain

Information about the designers in the A+ show at Central Saint Martins, 2016, names beginning with P

Peggy Fortnum (1919–2016) 

After studying at the Central School in the 1940s, Peggy worked as an illustrator for the publisher Collins. Although her work appears in books for all ages, Peggy is best known for her children's illustrations. In 1958 she was commissioned to illustrate the first Paddington Bear story, and continued to draw Paddington until 1983. Her work has been shown widely in exhibitions, for example at Seven Stories gallery in Newcastle, the Museum of London, and the British Museum. Apparently, her Central School tutor advised her to steer away from drawing 'talking animals in clothes', but he is also credited for helping Peggy secure her first commission in 1944.

A Bear Called Paddington, illustrated by Peggy Fortnum (1971) , displayed in the A+ exhibition at Central Saint Martins in 2016


Persiis Hajiyanni (b.1993) graduated from BA Graphics at CSM in 2015, having specialised in Moving Image. Persiis' creative process embraces experimentation with unexpected materials and takes inspiration from visual coincidences. The piece in the A+ show, 'Teri Dancer' was selected for exhibition in the 'The intelligent optimist' exhibition in 2015. Part of the 2015 London Design Festival, this exhibition showcased recent CSM graduates considered to be 'shaping the future of design'.

Prudence Stevenson (b.1942)

Prudence studied at Saint Martins from 1959 to 1962, and was a founder member of the See Red Women's workshop, whose work is also included in the A+ exhibition. Pru selected her 1973 aquatint 'It is your duty to be beautiful' for inclusion in the A+ exhibition.

"It is your duty to be beautiful", Prudence Stevenson, 1973, displayed in the A+ exhibition at Central Saint Martins in 2016

"It is your duty to be beautiful", Prudence Stevenson, 1973, displayed in the A+ exhibition at Central Saint Martins in 2016

After teaching art in HMP Holloway for five years, Pru resigned live on BBC Newsnight to draw attention to the inhumane conditions on the psychiatric wing. Pru founded the charity WISH to advocate and provide a voice for women in secure psychiatric units, and co-ran an educational campaign to help women in Nigeria, Ghana and Jamaica coerced into smuggling drugs into the UK. Virago Press published 'Insiders: Women's experience Prison', co-written by Prudence, who has received a Freedom of Information Award and a Jerwood Award in recognition of her excellent achievements in the charity field. Throughout her working life, Pru has continued to draw, paint and print, and current projects include a series of portraits of female friends aged over 70.