Our March meeting was a fabulous Virtual tour of the WSPU exhibition of 1909.
Nigel Shephard, a local composer and film maker has been researching the suffragettes for over 5 years, and has a film on the topic ready to go into production. Nigel joined forces with Naomi Paxton, an Actress and PHD student researching the Actress Franchise league. Together they presented rare photos, and insights into this amazing event.
I personally knew little of the suffragette exhibition, and was taken aback by how "modern" the women's faces seemed. It was like looking back in time to see contemporary women in "costume" almost. For the first part of the talk, we enjoyed a slide show that showed floor plans of the exhibition, witty anecdotes from attendees of the exhibition, and saw many wonderful images. Throughout the slide show, both speakers talked us through the images, their relevance and gave us some glimpses into a little seen part of the suffragette history.
There were bands in attendance at the exhibition, milliners selling extraordinary work and all number of tradeswomen selling their wares at the exhibition. My favourite image was the suffragette giving self defence demos, whose partner had fallen ill, and used a policeman as a stand in!
This little video, in no way gives the full experience of the night, but if you couldn't attend then it's a wee taster!
The Women's Institute's history is wrapped up with that of the suffragette movement, and Nigel is reaching out to the WI for help. Getting a movie made in the uk is expensive, and with the arts council cuts recently, it's becoming increasingly hard for independent film makers.
There are over 250,000 members of the WI in the uk, and if each of us gave a pound towards the making of this film, Nigel would be able to get it off the ground.
Stokey WI has donated a pound for each of our members, and we're looking to spread the word! Nigel and Naomi are available to give this presentation to other WI groups, so do get in touch if you'd like them to speak at your meeting?