Hello Friday! Summer is here and life has slid into a more casual routine- long conversations over dinner, late night walks and lazy mornings. I hope your summer is going well too. For todays’ Over A Cup Of Tea’ post, I want to talk about the phrase a woman of substance. (If you grew up in the ’80’s, you probably came across the book by Barbara Taylor Bradford. This post has nothing to do with the book.) It’s about the phrase and what it can mean. Who is a woman of substance? Is she someone wealthy? (For example, someone who is well to do is described as a man or woman of ‘substantial means’.)  Is she an influential person? Is she important?  If you look beyond surface-skimming, general descriptions, the phrase can mean something specific to each one of us. Does a woman of substance represent our individual idea of the ideal woman?  My connection to this phrase started with a curious coincidence. You may remember my conversation with Chicago-based artist Chandrika Marla (you can read the post here)– in addition to her other art, she has a series called ‘Talk’ where she paints these female torsos in conversation with each other. And, given my love for everything block printed, and the color palette that Chandrika uses, it was a series that really stayed with me. This piece below in particular was one I couldn’t get out of my mind. I don’t know if I ever registered the name of the art, but I would often picture the colors and the flowers, and mentally sigh with delight. Apart from being so appealing visually, I thought frequently about the artist’s description for the series- as wanting “to show the connection between clothing and our body and suggest that we put on a front each day, as we decide what to wear and who to be.”

A Woman of Substance, 2011/ Chandrika Marla/ Once Upon A Tea Time

Fast forward to when I started the marketplace. I thought of the art that I’d like to have in a future OUATT/Collectivitea office and the first work that came to mind was this one. I still didn’t remember any name. I wrote to Chandrika and asked her if she sold prints – she doesn’t. She wanted to know which work I was talking about and I described it to her, and then went to her website to see what the name was so I could tell her. Have you guessed? This work is called A Woman Of Substance. I was so taken aback to hear the name because if someone had asked me what I was striving towards over the last couple of years, I would have said, I am trying to be a woman of substance.  Who is a woman of substance? What did I define as a woman of substance? And why did I want to become one? Who do you want to be? How would you describe a woman of substance? Stay tuned for part 2 where I talk about what the words meant to me, and then asked other women (including the artist) what the words meant to them.

To read about Chandrika’s work, click here for my post and you can visit her website here.

Update: Parts 2, 3 and 4 of this series.

Image credit/copyright: A Woman Of Substance (2011) by Chandrika Marla.

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  1. Nitya

    Hi Priya, your post brought back vivid memories of my teenage friends and I going gaga over the Barbara Taylor Bradford and Danielle Steele books :). A Woman of Substance and Zoya (Danielle Steele) were particularly my favorites.. although I don’t recall the stories much now!!
    For me, a woman of substance is self assured and carves out her own path in life. She has the grit, wisdom, poise and grace to handle the toughest situations and comes away standing tall. For me, a woman of substance does not fear learning new things or reinvent herself. She is not frivolous and constantly tries to find meaning in all she does.

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