Arts Editor - Lesley Strachan

“No Petticoats Here…”

“No Petticoats Here…”

We can expect to see a lot of Suffragette imagery over the next 12 months; 2018 marks the centenary of some women over 30 and all men over 21 getting the Vote in February 1918.

Suffragette militancy and personal sacrifice were vital to gaining headlines and getting publicity to their campaign to win the Vote for Women.  But, in courting controversy, the Suffragettes also made themselves unpopular.  The Vote could not have been won without the participation of others.

Millicent Fawcett will be commemorated this year with a statue to celebrate her leadership of the Suffragists, who sought the vote by legal methods.  Turner prize-winning artist Gillian Wearing will be the first female artist to have her work featured in Trafalgar Square.

Battersea’s Charlotte Despard led the Women’s Freedom League. They looked for creative ways of civil disobedience to make their mark; their most famous event was the boycott of the census in 1911 with the slogan “no taxation without representation.”  Muriel Matters also caught the headlines when she flew a hot air balloon over Kensington and Tooting.

And then there were those who neither saw themselves as Suffragettes or Suffragists.

They identified as Feminists, perhaps the most well-known at the time but now forgotten, Cecily Hamilton.  A successful actress, playwright, novelist, editor and speaker, she led a wave of “new drama” alongside authors such as Shaw and Granville-Barker. We can hope to see some of her work revived this year, her most famous “Just to Get Married” was on at the Finborough last year.  There is still room for modern plays on the subject such as “Offside” which was on at the Omnibus in Clapham also last year and covered the female footballers who kept the sport alive during World War One.

Looking ahead at 2018, in February there is a one-night stand-up show “What the Frock” being held at the V&A; throughout the year there will be a Suffrage Flag Relay as part of the Civil Service celebration.

If you are a book-lover, there is a whole slew of new editions covering varied aspects of the age and the movement.  Many of the authors will be speaking at the London School of Economics including Dr. Helen Pankhurst who is the great grand-daughter of Emmeline Pankhurst and Elizabeth Crawford who speak about her new book “Who Were the Suffrage Artists.”

The Museum of London is leading the way on a varied programme of talks and events including family activities, bus tours and, as it hosts the largest collection in the work of the militant campaign, you can expect to see the full array on display.

The Royal Albert Hall not to be outdone has also curated a season of talks, film screenings and performances under the banner “Woman and the Hall.” Looking for something more practical?  Then Kensington Palace us the place for you as you can take part in a Suffrage banner making workshop in January.

The Mayor of London has launched his own year-long programme of events including featuring works made exclusively by women artists on London Underground under the slogan #BehindEveryGreatCity.  Also look out for #Vote100UK which will keep you updated on Parliamentary backed events celebrating the legislative landmark.

At Wandsworth Radio, we’ll be holding our own event to celebrate this landmark in British democracy – what about you?  If you are doing something locally, drop me a line  We’d love to cover it.

January 1st, 2018

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