Friday, 8 November 2013

POLLFest at the People's History Museum

The People’s History Museum in Manchester is delighted to announce details of our exciting politics festival POLLfest. Visitors are invited to join us from Friday 15 to Thursday 21 November as we celebrate Parliament Week with a series of events, activities and unfamiliar goings on to explore this year’s theme of Women in Democracy.

Women in Democracy tour - Friday 15 November
Celebrate Parliament Week on this special tour of our main galleries celebrating women’s contribution to UK democratic life. Stick around afterwards to see unique material in the Labour History Archive & Study Centre and go behind the scenes in our archive tour.
Suitable for adults
Booking advised
Free. Donations to the museum gratefully received
1.15pm – 2.00pm, archive tour 2.00pm – 2.30pm

Our friends at the Working Class Movement Library will be holding a Women in Democracy event, highlighting the lack of women MPs which is often a complaint about parliament. With women making up over half of the population, so it goes that they should make up half of parliament. Visitors can see collections relating to those pioneering women who fought against this inequality, from the first female councillor in Eccles, to the women in the Co-operative movement, explore how women have fought for an equal say.

Women in Democracy at the Working Class Movement Library - Saturday 16 November
The lack of women MPs is a constant complaint about parliament. With women making up over half of the population, so it goes that they should make up half of parliament. On Saturday 16 November between 10.00am and 1.00pm, visitors to the Working Class Movement Library can see collections relating to those pioneering women who fought against this inequality. From the first female councillor in Eccles to the women in the Co-operative movement, come and explore how women have fought for an equal say.
Suitable for adults
Drop in event, no booking required
Free. Donations to the library gratefully received
Please note this event is at the Working Class Movement Library
10.00am – 1.00pm

Q & A with Lucy Powell MP - Saturday 16 November
Come along to hear Lucy Powell, MP for Manchester Central give her views on what it’s like to be a female MP in parliament today. In a Q & A with the museum’s Director, Katy Archer, Lucy will chart her journey from joining the Labour Party, to becoming the first ever female Labour MP in Manchester, to taking up her new role as shadow minister for childcare.
Suitable for adults
Booking required via Eventbrite –
Free. Donations to the museum gratefully received
2.00pm – 2.45pm

In the evening, we are excited to be hosting Pecha Kucha Manchester.

Pecha Kucha - Saturday 16 November
Pecha Kucha Manchester is coming to the People’ s History Museum! Pecha Kucha is an informal presentation event where people are invited to talk about any subject they wish (in this case, politics) as long as they follow one simple rule – you can only use 20 slides and each have to be up for 20 seconds. This allows for quick, straight to the point presentations which both engage and educate.
Suitable for adults
Booking required via Eventbrite:
Free. Donations to the museum gratefully received
6.00pm – 8.00pm

On Sunday 17 November we turn to the funny side of politics at our Comedy Spectacular! where we will showcase the best up and coming comedy talent. Warm up for the evening by coming along to our Politics Show Off – an open mic night with a twist!

Comedy Spectacular!
From political cartoons to Spitting Image puppets – we love the funny side of politics at the PHM. Come along to a very special night where we showcase the best up and coming comedy talent.

4.00pm Politics Show Off
Warm up for the evening by coming along to our Politics Show Off – an open mic night with a twist! Performers get seven minutes to strut their stuff before the buzzer goes off. If you’d like to sign up to perform please contact Slots are limited so first come first served!

6.00pm Do Not Adjust Your Stage
In this very special performance, comedy troupe Do Not Adjust Your Stage will improvise scenes and stories inspired by the People’s History Museum.

7.00pm Gráinne Maguire’s One Hour All Night Election Special
Sad there’s no big election this year? Us too. Join stand up comedian, comedy writer and columnist Gráinne Maguire as she condenses all the fun of staying up late to watch democracy in process. Expect needlessly complicated graphics, politicians dancing awkwardly and humiliated grown ups trying not to cry in public. There will be Swingometers…
Suitable for adults
Booking required via Eventbrite –
Free. Donations to the museum gratefully received

Please visit our website to find out more about POLLfest. Follow us on twitter @PHMMcr #PHMPollFest for all the latest updates.

Friday, 25 October 2013

Women’s History Conference

November 23 2013   
10.30am – 5.00pm

Three Minute Theatre, Afflecks Arcade,     Oldham Street,  Manchester M1 1JG

£10/£5 (payable on the day)

Registration 10.00 am

Morning Session 10.30am – 1pm
Women, Politics and Music Claire Mooney  and Alice Nutter
Women as Political Activists (1)
Sonja Tiernan - Delia Larkin and Women in the 1913 Dublin Lockout
Michael Herbert – Sarah Parker Remond, Black American Anti- Slavery Lecturer

Afternoon Session 2pm – 5pm
Women as Political Activists (2)
Alan Fowler – Alice Foley: Weaver, socialist and trade unionist
Rae Street and Nick Wilding  – Enid Stacy: Socialist, Feminist,
Campaigner and Clarion Vanner
Panel Discussion on Socialism and Feminism
Speakers: Lindsey German and Louise Raw
Organised by the North West Labour History Society
More information:

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Fight for the Right Film Premiere

Friday 1 November 2013
6.00 - 8.00pm
The Library of Birmingham

Fight for the Right: the Birmingham Suffragettes is a history project supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund in which female pupils from two local Birmingham schools, Kings Norton Girls’ School and Waverley School, explored different methods of protest and activism used during the Birmingham suffrage campaign.

The research was then used to create a short film about the local women who played active roles during the campaign, focusing on specific incidents that took place in the city between 1909 and 1914, including an attack on the prime minister, a protest march, vandalised paintings and hunger strikes.

To register your attendance, please visit the FaceBook page for the event.

Monday, 16 September 2013

Upcoming book signing at People's History Museum

Saturday 26 October Sylvia Pankhurst: Suffragette, Socialist and Scourge of Empire
Sylvia continues to work while recovering from a hunger strike in 1913 in the home she shared with Mr and Mrs Payne in the East End's Old Ford Road

Image Credit - Estelle Sylvia Pankhurst collection, International Institute of Social History (Amsterdam)

From militant suffragette at the beginning of the twentieth century to campaigner against colonialism in Africa after the Second World War, Sylvia Pankhurst dedicated her life to fighting oppression and injustice.
Launching a new biography of Pankhurst, the author will discuss Pankhurst’s role at the forefront of significant developments in the history of radical politics: her construction of a working-class suffragette militancy which put working-class women at the heart of the struggle; her championing of the Bolshevik Revolution; her clandestine attempts to sabotage the actions of the British state; her early identification of the dangers of Fascism; and her life-long opposition to racism and imperialism.

Katherine Connelly is a writer, historian and activist.  In 2003 she was one of the school students who led the school strikes against the Iraq war and has continued to be a trouble-maker ever since.  This year she co-ordinated the Emily Wilding Davison Memorial Campaign and participated in the Channel 4 documentary on Emily Davison presented by Clare Balding.  She is currently a PhD student at Queen Mary, University of London, where she is researching the influence of radical Parisian popular culture in the 1840s on the writings of Karl Marx.  She is a leading member of the revolutionary socialist organisation Counterfire and this is her first book.

Booking Advised.  Visit the PHM website here.
Contact the museum on 0161 838 9190 or
Free. Donations to the museum gratefully received

2.00pm – 2.45pm (talk) 3.00pm (book signing)

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Upcoming events for Manchester Pride

Loud & Clear – a Pride Fringe event for lesbian and bisexual women
Tuesday 20th August 5.30-9.30pm

Join The Lesbian & Gay Foundation for free food, free refreshments and free thinking at their Pride Fringe event for lesbian and bisexual women.

Women sometimes struggle to have their voices heard, even within the LGB&T community. ‘Loud & Clear’ will feature a panel of inspirational women, exploring the different ways that we ‘come out’ and get our voices heard, both at Pride and in the wider world. Panelists will include local vicar Rev Rachel Mann, New Statesman columnist Eleanor Margolis and Sarah Evans, founder of Art With Heart.

The event also marks the launch of ‘Can You Hear Me?’, an interactive art exhibition which allows lesbian and bisexual women who have experienced mental health issues to share their stories.

‘Loud & Clear’ is a free event – no need to book, just turn up.

Email or call 0845 3 30 30 30 to find out more.

Can You Hear Me?
Tuesday 20th – Sunday 25th August

The Lesbian & Gay Foundation's 'Can You Hear Me?' exhibition will run for 6 days during Manchester Pride. 'Can You Hear Me?' is all about challenging the stigma and discrimination faced by lesbian and bisexual women with a mental illness, by encouraging conversations between those who have and haven’t experienced mental health problems.

Fourteen female participants have created their very own kitchen spaces, with furniture, decorations and sound, all created by our participants in order to tell their story. Each ‘kitchen’ reflects an individual’s experience and will be the setting for conversations between the participants and members of the public.

‘Can You Hear Me?’ is a completely unique opportunity to understand and change the stigma and discrimination faced by this group of women.

The event is free and we welcome both individuals and groups to come along during the following times:

· Tuesday 20th August 5.30-9pm (exhibition launch)
· Wednesday 21st August 4-8pm
· Thursday 22nd August 4-8pm
· Friday 23rd August 4-8pm
· Saturday 24th August 12-8pm
· Sunday 25th August 12-8pm

For more information, call us on 0845 3 30 30 30, email or visit

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Manchester Walk for Women

WHO: EVERYBODY, Women, men, children all welcome.

WHERE: The walk will begin at Ardwick Green, Manchester (the site of a rather impressive drama in ‘The Manchester Man’ written in 1876 by Mrs G Linneaus Banks). 

We will then pass the house of Elizabeth Gaskell, another Mancunian female pioneer, before heading to Birchfield Park and then Platt Fields. From there we will head to Whitworth Park before continuing up Oxford Road. We will conclude the walk at BLANKSPACE gallery, Hulme St to see the equals exhibition – a representation of where contemporary feminist artists are today – and have a glass of wine!

WHEN: Saturday 27th July, 2013 11.30am

AVERAGE DISTANCE: Approx 4.5 miles – 2 hours – flat, easy walking.

WEAR: Clothes and shoes comfortable to walk in, fantastic enough to celebrate in (feel free to wear sashes and bring banners, and of course if possible the suffragette colours of purple and green)

For information about the equals exhibition visit:

In the summer of 1913, around 50,000 women marched across Britain to London’s Hyde Park to demonstrate for the right to vote.

Now, 100 years later, women from Barnsley to Brighton and Portsmouth to Manchester are putting their best foot forward to celebrate those who strived to make it possible for women to make their mark on the ballot paper.

Walk for Women is a series of walks taking place ACROSS THE COUNTRY throughout July – so let's get together and celebrate the action taken a century ago and the positive change it brought about.

As a fitting finale to a programme exploring and expanding ideas on feminism, Blank Media Collective have organised the Manchester leg of Walks for Women. It will be the conclusion to equals, a month long exhibition and series of accompanying events including an evening of live arts, a ‘speed debate’, live radio shows and a publication.

To celebrate the heritage of these ideas and the responsibility we have to pass the baton, we will be joining the Walks for Women movement to commemorate the Suffragettes’ march on the House of Commons and rally in Hyde Park in 1913. 2013 is also the centenary of the death of suffragette Emily Wilding Davis under the King’s horse on Derby Day. We will walk to commemorate her death and the sacrifices women made for our civil liberties; and to join in solidarity with other Walks for Women to celebrate the potential of realising feminist ideals.

Feel free to wear sashes and bring banners!

Refreshments will await the walkers and there will be the opportunity to see the show and explore what contemporary feminist artists have to say over a glass of wine.

Further information on this walk can be found here:

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Conference Call - Suffragette Legacy; How does the History of Feminism Inspire Current Thinking in Manchester?

Suffragette Legacy
How does the History of Feminism Inspire Current Thinking in Manchester?
Saturday 8 March 2014

UPDATE JAN 2014 - We will shortly be booking tickets for this conference and sharing the outline for the day.  Sign up to follow the blog for new posts

Call for Papers
From The Village and David Bowie’s Suffragette City to Femen activists and Pussy Riot, the suffragette legacy is everywhere in modern culture.

As part of the Manchester Wonder Women events celebrating International Women’s Day 2014, this one-day conference seeks to bring together academics, artists, politicians and activists to present and speak about how their work is affected by the suffragette legacy of feminism.

Welcoming academic papers, feminist theory, dance, music or other, this one-day conference wishes to bring together different people to reflect on the important, but often complex, legacy of the suffragettes. Within an interdisciplinary context we wish to explore if, how and why the movement still matters in politics, academia, the arts and other aspects of modern Manchester.

Papers or submissions are welcome from any background, but special consideration will be given to anyone who directly engages with the Manchester history of the women’s movement.

Send your proposed paper, project or idea to by 15 October 2013 at 12pm. We will let you know if you have been successful by 1st November.

If your work has a particularly visual or performance element, do send us lots of details about it. We are hoping to display related materials, objects and artworks, so any visual output is welcome in the planning stages.

Deadline: 15 October 2013 at 12pm

Contact info:

Venue: People’s History Museum, Left Bank, Spinningfields, Manchester, M3 3ER


Fee: £25/£15 (concessions for students or unwaged). Bursaries and reasonable travel-expenses for speakers available.

Twitter: @wonderwomenmcr

Wonder Women:

Friday, 12 July 2013

Walking Tours this weekend

A very quick post with a couple of walking tours you might find of interest.

Saturday 13 July  1.45 pm
"Manchester First in the Fight": Votes for Women, 1866 - 1928
Meeting point: Friends Meeting House, Mount Street
This  walk  will tell the story of the campaign for “Votes for Women” in which  Manchester played a major role.

We will  encounter a number of the leading figures  of  the suffragist and suffragette  movement including Lydia Becker, Esther Roper, Teresa Billington,  Eva Gore-Booth, Nellie Keenan, Annie Kenney, Mabel Capper, Annot Robinson,   Hannah Mitchell and  the Pankhurst family.

Sunday 14 July, 11.30am
"Up Then Brave Women": Manchester's radical  women
Meeting point: Co-operative Bank, Corporation Street.
This walk will look at the role of women  in Manchester’s radical  movements include Co-operative  Women’s Guild, Socialist women, Mary and Lizzy Burns, women writers on the Manchester Guardian,  Mrs Gaskell,  the Manchester Society of Women Artists  and  women at Peterloo.

It  is taking place in partnership  with the equals project, organised by the Blankmedia Collective. equals will explore feminism through art and conversation. It will run from 11th to 28th July and include an art exhibition, a book and a number of other events. It is curated by Nathalie Boobis and Anne Marie Kershaw. 

For  details of the full programme, please  go to their website,


These talks are run and organised by Red Flag Walks

Thursday, 4 July 2013

equals: exploring feminism through art & conversation

equals is not just about women, it is about everybody. Through the artwork in the exhibition, to the work developed for the publication and the conversations yet to be had, equals hopes to challenge preconceptions, reinvigorate the word feminism and take a step closer to achieving a better model of gender equality today.

Equals exhibition launch Thursday 11th July 6-9pm:

equals is an exploration of the structures and systems that thread through our culture and language with regards to gender and feminism. Through the joint prisms of art and conversation, equals will provide a variety of platforms for all people of all genders to participate in the discussions and debates surrounding feminism and gender equality.

11th - 28th July - Exhibition equals:

Through the work of nine emerging artists, including Sarah Maple, best known for her strikingly subversive self-portraits and Goldfinger star Margaret Nolan, now a collage artist, the exhibition is an attempt to consider afresh where and how feminism could shape society.

Exhibition artists: Sarah Maple, Margaret Nolan, Ana Cigon, Rachel Finney, Marlene Haring, Helen Jones, Rosanne Robertson, Debbie Sharp, Mary Stark.

The exhibition launches on 11th July 2013 between 6-9pm at BLANKSPACE, 43 Hulme Street Manchester) and runs until 28th July 2013.

Equals Speed Debate and artists talk Saturday 13th July 11-5pm:

On Saturday 13th July 2013, Blank Media Collective will be hosting an equals 'speed debate' where participants can engage in conversation and debate directly with high profile voices in UK feminism.

Speakers: Ally Fogg (Guardian), Lucy-Anne Holmes (No More Page 3), Vicky Horne (Feminist Art Historian), Kate Smurthwaite (Comedian/Political Activist), Caroline Craido-Perez (Writer for New Statesmen and 'Keep a woman on English banknotes' campaign).

Following the speed debate, the speakers will be in discussion with the artists from the equals exhibition, followed by an artist Q&A .

The event begins at 11am on 13th July 2013 at 2022NQ, 20 Dale Street, Manchester, M1 1EZ. A limited number of tickets are available here and cost £5 (£3 concessions).

Equals live event Saturday 13th July 7-9pm:

On the evening of Saturday 13th July 2013, an amazing line-up of artists will utilise sound, image and language to re-explore gender identity through live performance, film and readings.

This event begins at 7pm at BLANKSPACE (43 Hulme Street, Manchester) and is free of charge.

Keep updated with all the latest information on this event:
Follow us on Twitter: @BlankMedia
Visit our website:

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Emily Wilding Davison: the one who threw herself under the horse

Yesterday was the Manchester performance of Emily Wilding Davison: the one who threw herself under the horse - a play written by Ros Connelly, and devised by writer Kath Burlinson and actress Elizabeth Crarer. Guest blogger Ingrid who is currently on a work placement at the People's History Museum was able to attend and review the play for the Wonder Women Blog. 
The People's History Museum seems like the ideal stage for a play about Emily Wilding Davison. It celebrates individuals and groups with causes worth fighting for and in my mind, Emily put up the ultimate fight.
Crarer's performance was incredibly fluid and at times even visceral. With little in the way of scenery and few props, it was a truly physical experience and Crarer really embodied her version of Davison. The Davison represented here is a self possessed and articulate woman; self aware yet consumed by the injust nature of womens rights at the time. Several times she declares 'this is the 20th Century!', outraged that it is now the early 1900's yet women still cannot have a political voice.
The play presented the relentless nature of campaigning, with repeated incidents, prison sentences coupled with Emily's personal struggles all making for an emotional experience.
I enjoyed the rope device, hung from one of the beams in the room it was used to create tension and movement and also represent objects in the most basic way, even a bicycle. It is a testament to Crarer that I felt completely pulled into Emily's world, immersed in every scene, looking where she looked, imagining those around her despite her being the only physical presence. The use of mostly ambient sounds really helped to create such a sense of atmosphere that there were times when I, as well as other members of the audience felt inclined to join in with her chanting of 'votes for women!'.
The chance to answer questions after the play was a great opportunity to understand the work of the team behind this play. I got the sense that they wanted to make Emily's individual story heard and differentiate her rather than just being lumped into the suffragette movement. It allowed her to be one woman, rather than an inhuman super-suffragette, almost. The point was made about Emily Wilding Davison being confused with other women until it is clarified that she was 'the one who threw herself under the horse', which is what influenced the title of the play.
It also threw up how relevant the issue of activism is even today. It was really inspiring to gain an insight into what Emily's life might have been like, her focus and commitment to the suffragette movement was one which would have been felt by so many women whose names and stories may well have been lost.
Devised theatre is about the process, what you see is the final product but leading up the the performance is a highly collaborative environment where all involved work together to create something. To hear more from the women involved in the creation of this play, click here.

For more information about future performances across the UK, click here. I would highly recommend you attend if you can.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Professor Krista Cowman talks Emily Wilding Davison and provincial militant protest

Image courtesy of the People's History Museum
Last Friday Krista Cowman came to give a talk on the role of Emily Wilding Davison and other suffragettes in the provinces at the People's History Museum. While many are aware of Davison's dramatic death, the talk addressed the work she did to campaign for women during her lifetime. Here is some insight into Davison and the work she did as a suffragette.
Emily Wilding Davison was born in 1872 to a  middle-class background. She benefitted from the educational reforms of the time, but could not complete her university education as planned due to her father's death so worked as a governess whilst completing it part-time. Davison joined the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU) in 1906 and in total she received 8 imprisonments, 700 strikes and was forcibly fed 49 times. She initially did suffrage work whilst still teaching, but the imprisonments caused her to decide give this up and dedicate herself to women's suffrage campaigning full time.
Cowman focused on the provincial campaigning, arguing that regional campaigns were the bedrock of what the union did as so many women worked from home rather than in London. At one time 140 women were being paid to be district organisers, which was a fairly settled role, taking day to day control of branches and sending detailed weekly diaries down to London to account for weekly meetings, and sales of various publications. Financing the work was a key factor, whilst they could claim petty cash, districts were often creative and make do in many ways in order to save money on materials needed.
Davison became an Itinerant Protester; between 1906-1912 - prison was an objective of the WSPU as a way to overwhelm the country's justice system as a means of protest. Many women were not imprisoned for breaking the law in a way that would usually get a prison sentence, but instead did offences that would incur a fine - then went to prison for refusing to pay the fine.
Respectable women of all classes became itinerant protestors, when in prison they would be disruptive, taunting guards, going on hunger strike and more.
Repeat offenders would be given increased sentences but jail was seen to open up the path to becoming an organiser. The work of suffragettes became known as 'pestering', women pursued politicians across the country to the point where some politicians began to refuse to take part in public meetings if women were in the audience and as a result security was tightened. Trying to get tickets to these meetings was one of the roles of campaign organisers and sometimes women would be in venues days ahead of the meetings to ensure they would be present.
 The talk also broached the demise of the WSPU, arguably due to the outbreak of World War One, and then  lead to a lively question and answer sesssion. Huge thanks to Krista Cowman for making the journey to Manchester to deliver this intriguing talk.
Krista Cowman is Professor of History at the University of Lincoln, a founder member of the Women’s History Network, and author of numerous publications including Women of the Right Spirit: Paid Organisers of the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU) 1904-18 - which would be a recommended read if the subject of this talk interests you.

Monday, 10 June 2013

Emily Wilding Davison Season - Political Women Tour

On Friday afternoon, Collections Access Officer Chris Burgess gave a tour of main gallery one at the People's History Museum, highlighting the presence of women within political movements, even before they got the vote. The role of the Manchester Female Reformers Society at Peterloo was an active one, women would take part in demos and unions, which would bring together classes and genders.

Women were also involved in the Chartist Movement. Their role was usually to make banners and organise teas, but more radical members of the organisation supported women for the vote. In particular it was felt that while women with husbands were represented by their husbands vote, single women and widows should be given a vote as they did not have a man to represent their views. In the 1867 reform bill, John Stuart Mill suggested that the word 'man' should be replaced by 'person'. Whilst this idea was not passed, the ideas were there and represented by some, if not by the majority. 

Women were seen as the voice of reason within political literature, counteracting the radicalism of going on strike, as seen in the image below where the wife is telling her husband "Thank God Bill you didn't strike", as they enjoy a Christmas spread that they may not have been able to afford without his income. Women were seen as rational yet still could not vote.

Image courtesy of the People's History Museum

Beatrice Webb's Desk is in the museum. Along with her husband Sidney and numerous others, she co-founded the London School of Economics and Political Science and played a crucial role in the forming of the Fabian Society - a British socialist organisation.

 Image courtesy of the People's History Museum

The museum has a section on feminist movements, and Chris mentioned how forward thinking and effective the marketing by women's campaigns were. They represented middle class and working class women, and the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU) had universal branding colours of purple white and green (purple symbolised dignity, white purity, and green hope).

Image courtesy of the People's History Museum
Womens WSPU prisoners felt they were political prisoners, and were recognised with badges and intricate certificates like the one below.

Image courtesy of the People's History Museum
The tour ended with a look at how political parties advertised to women once they were given the vote, putting them at the centre of the campaign.

Parties were not sure how to attract young women, as they thought women would only vote as mothers - the poster on the right here is typical of political campaigns, and many contemporary images have used this sort of angle to encourage women to vote.

On the left, the young woman is being encouraged to vote for as he is stylish and wearing more up to date fashions. The men wearing the top hats are being dismissed, playing up to the perceived vanity of women.

Image courtesy of the People's History Museum

You can find out more about Chris' work by reading his blog Unlocking Ideas or following him @UnlockIdeas

Friday, 7 June 2013

Remembering Emily


Remembering Emily - now on show at People's History Museum

Remembering Emily is an artwork by Lynn Setterington, and is one of the deeds in the 100 Deeds project. Here Lynn speaks about how it all came together to form this wonderful installation...

My deed, to mark the centenary of the death of suffragette Emily Davison and raise awareness of this remarkable woman, was to create a collaborative cloth comprising 100 sewn signatures - one for each year since her death. The project involved students, academic, technical and admin staff at Manchester Metropolitan University in a communal sew-in.

Everyone who took part was asked to sew their own signature and Remember Emily. Participants not only included students and staff in art and design but also science and engineering, health and social care and humanities. The shared making led to interesting conversations and discussions on the day, and I also collecting signatures from people who wanted to take part but were not able to participate at the event. A few “blanks” denote cloths given out but not returned by the deadline.

I devised an accompanying questionnaire to explore feminism today. This project is part of my on going research into sewn signatures as a means of social engagement.

Tomorrow afternoon there is a chance to meet artists behind the 100 deeds project and ask them any questions about their work.

8 June 2013
100 Deeds - Meet the Artists (clickable link)
2.00 – 3.00pm, FREE, Drop In

100 Deeds is a project which encourages members of the public to do an action which represents or promotes gender equality in the modern day, then promotes the people’s action. It is a direct response to the 100 year anniversary of Emily Wilding Davison’s fatal protest and is an opportunity for everyday people to recognise themselves as the makers of modern history. Come along and meet the artists to find out more about the project and to view all the deeds collected to date. Get involved by visiting or use the hashtag #100Deeds

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Emily Wilding Davison - the play

On Wednesday 12th June, a new play from Cambridge Devised Theatre entitled Emily Wilding Davison; The one who threw herself under the horse comes to Manchester for a matinee performance at the People's History Museum. 
In these extracts from an interview conducted by Kate Connelly, the playwright Ros Connelly, director Kath Burlinson and actor Elizabeth Crarer discuss how and why they chose to devise a play about a suffragette hero and the continuing relevance of the suffragette movement.

'Emily' in rehearsal
Why do you think it is important to produce a play about Emily Wilding Davison today?
Ros: One of the reasons I am fascinated by the suffragettes and think they are so important is because they demonstrate the heroism of ordinary people.  Emily Wilding Davison seems to be the supreme example of someone who under ordinary circumstances would have disappeared from history but, because of the particular circumstances of the time in which she lived and the strength of her beliefs, she ended up acting in a way which most of us would think is out of the ordinary.  I also think it is a very good time to be reminded about how people have used public protest in the past when the government doesn’t seem to be listening to the people.  I think there is a lot of modern relevance to what the suffragettes and Emily Davison did.  They saw people were not properly represented and they realised the government wouldn’t act unless people forced them to. 

Kath: We need to continue to keep women’s history and political struggle in the forefront of people’s consciousness because the minute we forget it, it disappears.  Having studied the women’s movement in the nineteenth century, the early twentieth century and second wave feminism, I feel that we are now living in a very interesting time.  I am meeting women in their twenties who are very interested in these debates and it feels like things are on the move.  But I am acutely conscious of the losses that can happen in between periods of obvious activism.  For example, in the early 1940s my mum was an undergraduate at Bedford College where the College colours were those of the suffragettes: purple, green and white.  But my mother, who was born in 1926, did not know the significance of those colours until 6 months ago.  Although she was born so soon after those suffragette campaigns, and was a woman studying at a college that had been at the forefront of the movement for women’s higher education, that she did not know about that colour symbolism is symptomatic of what can happen. 

I also hope this particular story of Emily Davison is going to open up a whole series of debates about activism that are very current: violent versus non-violent action; the reaction of the powers of the state to peaceful or non-peaceful protest; martyrdom; the fate of political prisoners.  All of these questions are as relevant today as they were then and all of them appear very directly in the play.
Lizzie:  For me personally Emily is a very interesting way of really thinking through my own attitudes about politics.  For years I have felt a-political and I didn’t grow up connected to a political narrative and I was ashamed and a bit afraid of that.  Meeting Emily Davison, researching and understanding the way that she did things was a way into politics through empathy and imagination. I hope that through making her story into a play, we might offer other people an opportunity to feel how these events at these beginning of the twentieth century connect with them.

'Emily' in rehearsal
Emily Davison was one of the most mysterious of the suffragettes, rarely revealing her motives for her militant actions.  How did you find out about Emily and decide what motivated her?

Ros:  We used the process of devising which entails lots of research before starting.  We tried as much as possible to find what Emily herself said and what others said about her.  The director created different scenarios for the actress to explore, sometimes using Emily’s words, sometimes starting with physicality, feeding in imagery from the time – the art of the time, the music and what was happening culturally.  There is very little of her private writings, so we tried to get through to the private person from her public writings.
Kath:  Part of the discussion between Ros, Lizzie and me has been inventing our own Emily Davison – not fancifully without evidence, but there is an interpretive necessity.  We are creating our own woman who is not Emily Davison.  As every actor will create their own Hamlet, we are creating our own Emily Davison. 
Lizzie:  I don’t think I’ve decided anything yet and I hope I don’t.  It’s not my place to do so.  I can only work with the clues and have to keep exploring and discovering.  There is always more to find out.  Of course there are a few things that I feel are important; at the moment I keep coming back to Emily Davison’s relationship with her father, the moment of transition in her introduction to radical politics and her relationship to her faith.  But through this encounter I hope that Emily teaches me to extend the range of things that I consider to be important.  Part of my job as an artist is to question my own preconceptions.  We’re not producing the definitive version.  I am thrilled that there are two other plays and an opera coming about Emily.  This is really appropriate and necessary because there needs to be a conversation.   
Why did you choose to devise this piece and what difference do you feel devising makes?
Ros:  I chose to devise this piece because I think it’s important to get the input of other people and not just to have one person’s view.  When you get the input from the writer, the director and actor at the same time in the creative process you get very different points of view and different ways into the material. This story is particularly appropriate for the devising process because there are so many important physical actions, not expressible through words - Deeds not Words!
To book your tickets, get in touch with the museum via the contacts on the flyer below.
For details of more dates across the UK, take a look at
Further reading:

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Kim Duff installation and 100 Deeds: on display now

From 4-14 June 2013, the foyer of the People’s History Museum will be the temporary home of an installation by artist and Bolton University student Kim Duff. The works are inspired by the Suffragette movement, and represent various stages of women’s oppression.

The installation accompanies a projection of 100 Deeds, the outcome of a project by Sarah Evans and Jenny Gaskell. 100 Deeds invites you to become a modern day history maker by thinking about what feminism and gender equality mean to you and then acting on those thoughts. You can read more about the project in Jenny and Sarah’s own words in their recent post.

If you'd like to come and check out the display, it's free and now on display within museum opening hours until 14 June. It kicks off a series of events to commemorate the centenary of suffragette Emily Wilding Davison’s act, which we will be reviewing here over the coming weeks.

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Emily Wilding Davison

In June 2013 it will be 100 years since suffragette Emily Wilding Davison ran out in front of the King’s Horse at the Epsom Derby. She received injuries that led to her death four days later. To commemorate her act and to keep the conversations going that started with Wonder Women: Radical Manchester, People's History Museum are having a mini season of events.

4 June - 14 June 
100 Deeds - Inspired by Emily Wilding Davison (clickable link)
During Museum Opening Hours, FREE in Museum Foyer

On 4 June 1913, 100 years ago, Emily Wilding Davison stepped in front of the King’s horse at the Epsom Derby, whilst promoting women’s right to vote. Some considered her to be an extremist, others a hero.

On the 100 year anniversary of Emily’s deed at Epsom, we are interested in what gender equality means now. In response to the Women’s Social Political Union slogan ‘Deeds Not Words’, we are inviting 100 members of the public to do and share a deed. Come see these deeds on display in the museum foyer. Get involved by visiting or use the hashtag #100Deeds

A project by Sarah Evans and Jenny Gaskell. Funded by Equity Foundation, with thanks People’s History Museum, Wonder Women: Radical Manchester and The Future.

7 June 2013
From Mary Wollstonecraft to Margaret Thatcher – Women’s History Tour  (clickable link)
To commemorate the centenary of the death of Emily Wilding Davison
1.15 – 2.00pm, FREE, booking advised 

Come along for a guided tour of the main galleries of the People’s History Museum and discover how women shaped our history. Including the ‘first feminist’ Mary Wollstonecraft, the suffragettes, the peace campaigners at Greenham Common and, love her or hate her, Britain’s first female Prime Minister.

7 June 2013
Emily Wilding Davison and Provincial Militant Protest - A fascinating talk by Krista Cowman (clickable link)
2.00pm after the Women’s History Tour, FREE, booking advised 

Most people are familiar with the story of the end of Emily Wilding Davison’ s life. Her tragic death under the hooves of the King’ s horse at the Derby a century ago and her impressive funeral procession have become some of the most iconic images of the suffragette campaign. What is less well known, perhaps, is the work that Emily did for the suffragette movement in the years before her death. When the suffragette leaders were told by Prime Minister Campbell Bannerman to ‘go on pestering’ if they wanted to get the vote, that was exactly what they set out to do, following politicians the length and breadth of Britain to get their point across.

This talk looks at Emily Wilding Davison’ s part in these provincial protests, including her work in Manchester, and outlines their value to the wider suffrage campaign. Krista Cowman has taught at the University of York and Leeds Metropolitan University and is currently Professor of History and Director of Research for the College of Arts at the University of Lincoln. Krista has published and broadcast widely on the history of the British suffrage movement, and has a particular interest in the Women’ s Social and Political Union and its provincial work. Her history of the WSPU’ s paid organisers was published by Manchester University Press in 2007.

8 June 2013
100 Deeds - Meet the Artists (clickable link)
2.00 – 3.00pm, FREE, Drop In 

100 Deeds is a project which encourages members of the public to do an action which represents or promotes gender equality in the modern day, then promotes the people’s action. It is a direct response to the 100 year anniversary of Emily Wilding Davison’s fatal protest and is an opportunity for everyday people to recognise themselves as the makers of modern history. Come along and meet the artists to find out more about the project and to view all the deeds collected to date. Get involved by visiting or use the hashtag #100Deeds

12 June 2013
Emily Wilding Davison: the one who threw herself under the horse (clickable link)
A new play from Cambridge Devised Theatre.
3.00 – 4.30pm, Cost £7 adults, £5 concessions, booking required 

A new play from Cambridge Devised Theatre about the suffragette Emily Wilding Davison, which has been specially devised and written to coincide with the centenary commemorations of her death at the Derby in June 1913.

The play is set in the context of the struggle for women to have the vote in the first quarter of the 20th century, fitting with the People’s History Museum’s galleries that display ideas of democracy, reform, protest, power and politics, and Manchester’s vital role in the history of the suffragette movement. The play will also address questions relevant to our own time about the nature of protest, risk, personal sacrifice, women’s education, fanaticism, torture and the role of the state.

Thursday, 11 April 2013

100 Deeds

Hello everyone

We are Jenny & Sarah & we wanted to welcome you to 100 Deeds! 100 Deeds is a project which came out of a conversation about the word ‘feminism’ and what that means to people.

We wanted to create a project which in someway marked the 100 year anniversary of the Emily Wilding Davisons protest at Epsom Derby (4th June 1913) in which she stepped in front of a horse whilst protesting for women’s right to vote. It’s an iconic moment in British history – I don’t know about any other girls but I grew up knowing that I should vote before knowing anything about politics, simply because somebody had died for my right to. I think the both of us have a complicated response to Emily’s action – we’re not sure if it was heroic, or an act of terrorism. We’re not even sure if Emily did this on purpose.

What we do think is that there’s something in the Women’s Social Political Union slogan ‘Deeds Not Words’; we think that actions do often speak louder than words. We also think that opinions around gender quality are complex and diverse. Possibly 1 action cannot sum up what the feminism means to us now, but maybe 100 actions might get close.

So we’re asking people to do something really simple – to do a deed which promotes or represents what feminism means to you (don’t just talk about it) and then share it with us ... (see the image above for one of the first submissions)… We will share our findings online & in a showing at People’s History Museum. Anyone can get involved & become a modern history maker – take a look here: 

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.