Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Lillian Forrester: “We broke the glass of some pictures as a protest but we did not intend to damage the pictures”.

Today, 3rd April 2013, marks the centenary of an attack by three suffragettes – Annie Briggs, Evelyn Manesta and Lillian Forrester – on a number of pictures in the Manchester Art Gallery as part of the militant campaign for votes for women. The women were charged under the Malicious Damage Act; Lillian and Evelyn were sent to prison. The judge stated that if the law would allow he would send them round the world in a sailing ship deeming this the best thing for them...

This shocking moment has been revisited throughout the Wonder Women season. Manchester Art Gallery has programmed a number of key events throughout March and April including a number of curator-led gallery tours focusing on key items in the gallery's collection which have links with the Suffragette movement reflecting on the gallery as the site of radical political protest.

Gallery Talk: Isabel Dacre & Annie Swynnerton

On Thursday 7th March we joined Fine Art Curator Rebecca Milner as she discussed the work of two female Victorian painters: Isabel Dacre and Annie Swynnerton. Both artists were involved with the Suffragette movement in Manchester and shared a lifelong friendship. The artists together founded the Manchester Society of Women Artists in 1876; Dacre also served as president of the organization. For a decade (1885–95), Dacre was a member of the executive committee of the Manchester National Society for Women's Suffrage.

Rebecca Milner discusses Dacre's work 
Isabel Dacre Italian Women in Church Image Courtesy of Manchester City Galleries

Annie Swynnerton (1844-1933) was born in Manchester and in 1922 became the first female associate of the Royal Academy since the 18th century. Rebecca Milner discussed Montagna Mia (circa 1923) meaning 'My Mountain'.

Gallery Talk: Anna Philips

On the 14th March Janet Boston discussed some key items within the gallery's collection which were donated by Anna Philips of the Philips family of Philips Park Whitefield, Manchester. Anna came from a family of merchants who owned The Park from 1799 - 1948. The Philips became a prominent family in the area and the second generation of Philips to live at The Park went on to be prominent people within the political world as well as being involved in education and other philanthropic pursuits. 'The Philips of The Park' exhibition will run at Bury Art Museum from 16 March - 31 August if you would like to find out more about the family. More info about his exhibition can be found here.

Janet Boston discussing Anna Philips' donated objects

Each Thursday Manchester Art Gallery is open until 9pm and this month's 'Thursday Lates' programme has been dedicated to the 'Wonder Women: Radical Manchester' season. The gallery has hosted some extraordinary events including 'Un-Convention Women: Pussy Riot' (7th March) an evening about current issues arising in feminism around the world.  The event included spoken word and music performances, plus discussion of recent events in Russia with the Pussy Riot trials, with three actresses reading the testimonies from the Pussy Riot trials and performance and discussion from Viv Albertine (The Slits), Jayne Casey, Tracey Moberly, Alex Keelan, She Makes War and more. 

'Delia Darlings' took place on 14th March. This event celebrated the life and work of electronic music pioneer Delia Derbyshire (1937-2001), one of the pioneering figures in the development of electronic music in Britain.  Delia Darlings are Manchester based artists working in music and sound who have been paying sonic homage to Delia Derbyshire by spending time with her archives at the University of Manchester. On the 21st March Canadian artist Michelle Teran presented 'Folgen' a performance lecture as part of the FutureEverything programme.  Exploring the intersections between social and technological networks, Teran’s work covers live installations, lectures, online performances and connected events.

DJ Mary Anne Hobbs
On 28th March DJ Mary Anne Hobbs was in conversation with Dave Haslam discussing her current job as Weekend Breakfast presenter for BBC Radio 6 Music, her stint living on a bus in a car park and her role as a woman at the forefront of music broadcasting.

This Thursday 4th April the gallery will host the RNCM In The City Concert. Mezzo-sopranos Rosie Middleton and Lucilla Graham will perform a modern programme including works by Ella Jarman-Pinto and Royal Northern College of Music student composer Michael Betteridge, accompanied by pianist Pilar Beltran. Each piece will offer a new take on the theme Wonder Women: Radical Manchester. Find out more info about this event here.

You may also be interested in this fascinating article by Jeanette Winterson '100 years after the suffragettes' which was published in the Guardian on Friday 29th March.