Women (those who identify as women or non-binary) and girls across the UK are invited to come together on the streets of Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh and London on Sunday 10 June 2018 for Processions, a mass participation artwork to mark the centenary of the Representation of the People Act, which gave the first British women the right to vote.
The work is produced by Artichoke, the UK’s largest producer of art in the public realm, as part of 14-18 NOW, the UK’s official arts programme for the First World War centenary.
The artwork aims to unite and inspire women from all walks of life in a living, moving portrait of women in the UK in the 21st century. Participants will wear green, white or violet to reflect the suffragette colours, and will be choreographed so that they appear as vast flowing bands of colour.
Artichoke is working with Clare Hunter, community textile artist, banner-maker and writer, as banner-making advisor. She has developed a toolkit based on the original 1909 guide to banner-making written by Mary Lowndes, founding member of the National Union of
Women’s Suffrage Societies. The toolkit will provide inspiration, guidance and practical instructions for any individuals and groups to create their own banner.
Helen Marriage, CEO of Artichoke said: “Processions is an invitation to women and girls across the country to become part of a vast artwork that will celebrate what was achieved one hundred years ago, and asks what that means to women today. The 100th anniversary of the passing of legislation which made universal suffrage unstoppable is a moment both for celebration and reflection.”
In all one hundred women artists are being commissioned to work with communities across the UK to create one hundred centenary banners for Processions. The event hopes to memorialise how women came together on the streets a hundred years ago made themselves visible with handmade flags, banners, pins and rosettes. The workshops will focus on text and textiles, echoing the practices of the women’s suffrage campaign, and the banners made will represent and celebrate the diverse voices of women and girls from different backgrounds.
Jenny Waldman, Director of 14-18 NOW said: “The actions of women a hundred years ago during the First World War have paved the way for women today, but there is still work to be done. I would like to thank the 100 artists who are contributing to this vast and powerful artwork and are exploring what it means to be a woman in the UK today, our successes, and the challenges we still face.”
Historic England has commissioned artist Lucy Orta and the London College of Fashion, UAL, to work with former Holloway inmates now at HMP Downview, to produce a banner for Processions. Holloway Prison was one of the most notorious sites associated with the Suffrage movement in London with imprisoned Suffragettes being force fed there.
Celia Richardson, Director of Communications at Historic England, said: “The story of the struggle for women’s suffrage belongs to all of us and still resonates today.”
For more information and to register for a march visit the Processions website.