Ilford art exhibition explores whether words or deeds helped the fight for women's rights
PUBLISHED: 15:00 15 August 2018 | UPDATED: 15:27 15 August 2018
They say the pen is mightier than the sword.
I am not sure who “they” are but I hope they are right - not just as a journalist but as a peace advocate.
But would I have the same mentality if I was born a hundred years ago and didn’t have the same rights as a man?
Can I back ‘team pen’ from the relative (and I say relative) comfort of my 2018 recliner chair?
Yes, we have Trump, #Metoo, spies poisoning Salisbury and the creation of the Britain First “party”, but I certainly didn’t have to chain myself up to a primary school in Redbridge to cast a vote in the council elections.
In fact, political parties had to actively try and groom potential voters of all binary and non-binary persuasions to step a foot in the corridor.
But swiftly getting back to the suffragettes, was it words, actions, or a combination of the two which helped their cause?
Art work exploring these themes and more is being displayed in Ilford throughout August.
Valentines Mansion is paying homage to the suffrage movement in a thought-provoking exhibition on Emerson Road.
The display looks at the differences between the militant actions of the suffragettes compared with the more peaceful, constitutional campaign methods of the suffragists and allows the viewer to form their own opinion on what works best.
From stone-carving and print to embroidery and portraits, the collection features work from some of the best artists in Redbridge.
Among the pieces being displayed is Words and Deeds by the mansion’s resident artist Jason Rose.
“The two portraits are of Emmeline Pankhurst, leader of the suffragettes, and Millicent Fawcett, leader of the Suffragists,” he said.
“The piece explores the difference in approach both ladies had - the portrait of Millicent being composed entirely of transcribed words and quotes from various Suffragists, and the one of Emmeline being made up of archive images of suffragettes performing militant action”.
“Is like good cop, bad cop, democracy or direct action- but I am not saying which is the best option that up to you to decide.”
Stain glass artist, Amanda Seljubac decided to push herself out of her comfort zone and create a piece made from alabaster stone to encourage dialogue about the lesser know White Feather Girls movement.
During World War One men were made members of the white feather brigade if they showed cowardice.
White Feather Girls adopted this tactic and would pin white feathers on men in public, often causing them humiliation.
Males too young for the army, physically disabled and veterans were often the victims.
“Why would woman shame men into the army when their pacifist sister the suffragists were meeting in 1915, braving great danger to travel to The Hauge with the precisely opposite aim- to stop the war,” she said.
“The order of the white feathers raises interesting questions about women’s response to the great war which split the feminist movement and despite a multiplicity of philosophical differences among pre-war suffragists, most had been united in their opposition to war.”
Another interesting creation is defaced coinage by Julian Walker.
He looked into the graffitiing of money during the suffrage movement, in which the slogan ‘Votes for Women’ was stamped in crude lettering across the head of the king on coins.
“For over twenty years I have been making work that intervenes in what might be thought of as heritage objects.
“I have undone embroideries and added to them, carved into fossils and Wedgwood ceramics, engraved onto 1950s glass plates, and made passable fakes of seventeenth-century drawings and artefacts from antiquity.
“All of these add to the cultural fragility of the items, and pose uncomfortable questions about preservation, use, the creation of ‘unassailable culture’, and how we relate to the past -The object altered for this project raises the same questions.”
The exhibition is open on selected days in August between 11am and 4pm. Call 02087088100 or visit valentinesmansion.com