Inspiration, it’s so important. It changes us, moulds us, and makes us want to do better and be better. But what are the traits of inspirers? What is it about these individuals that makes us sit up, take note, and follow? Essentially, it comes down to the impact made upon people and/or society, and the legacy left behind. However, there are also certain characteristics that inspirers possess. There’s courage; people who inspire us have usually faced great odds and as a result are warriors and fighters for what they believe in. Those who inspire us have empathy for others, appreciating who they are inside without being overprotective. They give us a sense of authenticity, making us forgo certain fears. They lack biased notions and display tremendous compassion towards humanity. They’ve taken the time to heal and recover from whatever trauma they might have experienced and can thus truly help others. Wealth, power, and influence are but by-products of their altruistic actions; actions that uplift others.
Here at Cambridge Mask Co, we’ve always looked at inspiring figures to in turn inspire us. We’ve showcased these actions in our face masks. Many are named after influential and inspirational figures of the past and present. And as more people avail themselves as inspirational figures, we’ll continue to create unique designs around our famous PRO mask based on these individuals. With all this in mind, let us now look at 4 inspirational women after whom we’ve modelled our designs.
Born at the turn of the 19th century, Anna Atkins lost her mother at a very early age and was raised by her father, John George Children, a respected scientist who was associated with the British Museum. For a woman born during that time, she received an unusually scientific education and pursued her interest in botany. It was through her friendship with Sir John Herschel, inventor of the cyanotype photographic process, that she would go on to garner eventual international fame as the first published female photographer. Within a year of being introduced to the process in 1842, Anna Atkins self-published her first book, Photographs of British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions. It would be over a hundred years before she got the credit she deserved. The type of photographic process that she employed in her work would eventually become known as blueprinting and was a staple in architectural and engineering drawings for a very long time. Here at Cambridge Mask Co, we have honoured this once forgotten pioneer of photography with The Atkins PRO, a mask imbued with a beautiful floral pattern meant to mimic Anna Atkins love for botany.
The undisputed queen of crime and the most published novelist, Agatha Christie’s contribution of books has only been challenged by Shakespeare and the Bible. Her compendium of publications includes 66 novels, 14 short story collections and the world’s longest running theatre play. Christie’s success goes back over 100 years to 1920 when her first novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles was published. It was this book that would introduce readers to Christie’s most acclaimed creation – Hercule Poirot – a character who’s been realised in 4 film versions of Murder on the Orient Express as well as a popular series starring David Suchet that ran from 1989 to 2013. Many of the common detective tropes that we take for granted were created by Agatha Christie – multiple suspects, the gathering of everyone before the murderer is revealed, the idea that the crime takes place under circumstances impossible to fathom etc. So entrenched and well-liked is the Christie formula for crime, that filmmaker Rian Johnson who directed 2019’s Knives Out has admitted that his film was inspired by her works. After more than a century, the world continues to thirst for stories that surprise, intrigue, confound and delight. Agatha Christie’s fleshed-out characters, unforeseeable plot twists and at times shocking climaxes have left an indelible mark on pop culture. Here at Cambridge Mask Co we’ve paid tribute to the life and works of Agatha Christie through The Agatha PRO, a light blue mask with a lovely floral design of roses.
The pioneer of modern nursing is by far one of the most inspirational figures of modern history. Born in 1820 to a wealthy family, Florence Nightingale, unlike her parents who were social climbers, elected to pursue a career deemed by them as something below her. At the age of 17 she turned down a marriage proposal from Richard Monckton Milnes, someone deemed “suitable” in favour of her true calling and in 1844 enrolled at the Lutheran Hospital of Pastor Fliedner in Kaiserwerth, Germany as a nursing student.
By the 1850s Nightingale returned to London to work in a Middlesex hospital for ailing governesses. Within a year she was promoted to superintendent on account of her work ethic. She worked tirelessly to improve hygiene practices, in the process lowering the death rate of the hospital. It was also this job that would prepare her for her biggest challenge – the Crimean War. The Crimean War, which saw the British Empire warring against the Russian Empire over the Ottoman Empire broke out in 1853 and very soon England was in an uproar over its soldiers who were injured, neglected and languishing in very insanitary conditions. When Nightingale was asked to assist, she took with her 34 nurses, and to their horror realised that more soldiers were dying from infectious diseases than from injuries incurred in battle. Nightingale and her team tackled the contamination of the hospital by procuring hundreds of scrub brushes and asking the least injured of the soldiers to scrub down the hospital from ceiling to floor. At night she would attend to the soldiers and minster to them. So taken were they by her compassion, that she soon earned the names, “the Lady with the Lamp,” and “the Angel of Crimea.” Thanks to her efforts, the hospital’s death rate declined by two-thirds.
Florence Nightingale changed the nursing profession forever. What was at the time seen as a very low profession came to be an honourable one. Despite becoming bed-ridden due to the Crimean War, she continued to work and consult from her bed and is considered a pioneer of modern-day nursing. Here at Cambridge Mask Co, we’ve created The Nightingale PRO – our homage to a woman who gave effortlessly, inspired thousands, and changed the world for the better.
Possibly one of the most recognised female poets of the 20th Century, Sylvia Plath was a literary force of nature. Since her untimely death at the mere at of 30, over 100 books have been written about her. Plath was born to an Austrian mother and German father in 1932 in Boston Massachusetts and by age 8 had already published her first poem. She sold her first poem and first story while still in high school and by 1951 entered Smith College on a scholarship where she achieved tremendous academic, artistic, and social success. However, her success was juxtaposed with severe depression, an attempted suicide, and a period of psychiatric internment. From Smith she graduated in 1955 with honours and proceeded on a Fulbright fellowship to Newnham College, Cambridge. At the age of 10 she lost her father, an experience she would later immortalise in her acclaimed poem, “Daddy.” Other notable works include her novel, The Bell Jar, a semi-biographical account of her life which deals with very real fears faced by women. Regrettably, Sylvia Plath would eventually take her own life in 1963. Her Collected Poems were published in 1981 and in 1982 she posthumously received the Pulitzer Prize for poetry, making her the first person to receive the award in this manner. Plath’s style of confessional poetry resulted in her becoming a key part of American literature. The unique manner in which she portrayed the injustices of gender-based roles and institutional care have made her an important part of American history. Her work continues to fascinate and inspire others. Here at Cambridge Mask we’ve chosen to honour this titan of literature and influence through The Plath PRO.