Helen has been crocheting away while Jenny swots up in preparation for a work in progress showing of our Stature project.
Masks and mini biogs of: marathon swimmer Sunny Lowry; controversial Victorian novelist Elizabeth Gaskell; and “honorary Ethiopian” Sylvia Pankhurst will be on display 24 August – 28 September as part of PS Mirabel Gallery’s ARTIFICE exhibition.
Everyone is welcome to the not-so-private view on Thursday 29 August. For more info on the exhibition, check out the PS Mirabel website.
Crocheting the noses of this first batch of masks has proved a real technical challenge and learning experience, even for a seasoned crochet-pro like Helen. It’s taken a good few trips to the town hall to perform on site nip and tucks to get the looks we’re after:
While these three initial work in progress masks are being exhibited, Helen will use her new-found crochet mask nose job expertise to create the next batch of masks.
Meanwhile Jenny has been geeking up on her history, and finding out more about these three women’s amazing lives.
- Elizabeth Gaskell
Jenny Uglow’s biography of Elizabeth Gaskell has been a great read. So Gaskell’s novels explored controversial social issues of the day (class conflict, sexual politics, gender expectations), with the aim of provoking public debate and progress. Uglow’s biography really puts this aim into context, highlighting Gaskell’s boldness of vision, and the moral outrage her work provoked. We really admire how Gaskell stuck to her guns, and, in the face of extreme criticism didn’t sway from her desire to highlight social injustice. Her novel Ruth tells a story of seduction, and follows the fate of an unmarried mother. While a number of her church acquaintances burnt copies of the book, and banned their wives from reading it, Gaskell remained defiant “An ‘unfit subject for fiction’ is the thing to say about it; I knew all this before; but I determined to speak my mind out about it; only how I shrink with more pain than I can tell you from what people are saying, though I would do every jot of it over again tomorrow…”
- Sunny Lowry
This video made by Manchester High School for Girls gives some great insights into Sunny Lowry’s channel swimming exploits and harsh training regime. To fatten up and stave off the cold during the long crossing, she ate 40 eggs a week. For her successful channel swim in August 1933, she ditched the traditional long woollen swimming costume in favour of a more streamline, daring, knee-revealing outfit. On board her support boat a bagpipe player helped her keep her stroke regular, and carrier pigeons were released at regular intervals to send updates on her progress back to dry land.
It’s also been interesting to see how the newspapers of the day covered her swimming efforts. We’ve been making the most of Manchester City Library members online resources to access historical newspaper articles and adverts:
- Sylvia Pankhurst
Sylvia Pankhurst is most definitely our favourite of the Mancunian Pankhurst clan. While the Women’s Social and Political Union (the suffragette organization led by her mother Emmeline and sister Christabel) considered that only posh, privileged women should gain the vote, Sylvia championed voting rights for working class women and men. We enjoyed watching this trailer for a documentary on Pankhurst’s life. The website also has some great original source material. It’s also been fascinating to learn about her passionate support for Ethiopian culture and independence. She spent her final years living in Ethiopia and was given a full state funeral there as an “honorary Ethiopian”.