June Simms textile commission: “The worker must have bread, but she must have roses, too.”

The phrase ‘bread and roses’ is associated with striking textile workers in Lawrence, Masachussetts in 1912, led by women, who made up the majority of workers in textile factories and organised creatively to transform their condition. The phrase ‘bread and roses’ comes from a speech by Rose Schneiderman, a Polish-born American, socialist, feminist union leader of the time who in said in a speech: “The worker must have bread, but she must have roses, too”.

That is the philosophy that lies at the heart of everything that we do at bread, print and roses. We believe that we can and must provide the means of subsistence for all, but we must also make sure that everyone has the opportunity to live a life of beauty and meaning, too.

We commissioned June Simms, a former nurse and midwife turned textile artist to make a piece for us. This is what June did with our thoughts, in the style of a miniature marching banner. It includes a quote from the later poem, Bread and Roses, by James Oppenheim evoking the spirit of Rose Schneiderman’s speech: “Our lives shall not be sweated from birth until life closes / Hearts starve as well as bodies; give us bread but give us roses”

Here’s to that. We can and we must do better. With a huge debt of thanks to June for her thoughtful and beautiful work.