Arts & Culture  Features

Processions: 100 Years of Women’s Suffrage


Published on
March 9, 2018


As part of a year-long programme of activities linked to the centenary of partial women’s suffrage in the UK, the Nine Elms Vauxhall Partnership is proud to announce its participation in PROCESSIONS.

In 1918, the Representation of the People Act gave the first British women the right to vote and stand for public office.  PROCESSIONS is a celebratory mass participation artwork that will create a living portrait of women today to mark this historic moment,  and the partnership is honoured to be one of the organisations chosen to take part.

On June 10, women and girls in Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh and London will walk together as part of this celebratory mass participation artwork. Wearing either green, white or violet, the colours of the suffrage movement, the PROCESSIONS will appear as a flowing river of colour through the city streets.

As part of this project, one hundred women artists are being commissioned to work with organisations and communities across the UK to create one hundred centenary banners for PROCESSIONS as part of an extensive public programme of creative workshops.

The Partnership will be working with artist Ruth Ewan and a group of local women to create a banner inspired by Charlotte Despard, a social activist and suffragist who lived and worked across Battersea, Nine Elms and Vauxhall at the turn of the twentieth century.

Ruth Ewan will be drawing on the history of this extraordinary woman, who set up free healthcare services in Nine Elms, at a time when it was one of the most deprived areas of the city – she also worked as a poor law guardian, ensuring that properties were suitable for human habitation.

Ruth Ewan’s work takes many diverse forms including performance, installation and printed matter. Her practice explores overlooked areas of political and social history, presenting forgotten ideas and proposing their continuity. Often celebrating creative activists and radical thinkers, Ewan’s work frequently encourages participation through public facing workshops and events. In the past she has collaborated with many specialists such as historians, crafts people, architects, musicians and school children to realise her projects.

Ruth said:

“Charlotte Despard was a truly remarkable activist and I’m looking forward to creating a banner in tribute to her. Many of the struggles she fought for continue today and I hope, through the process of researching and making with other women, to explore some of the historic and ongoing issues she campaigned for to inspire us into action.”

Local women are invited to take part in the project. We will be sharing further details of how to get involved at a later date – in the meantime you can register your interest in taking part in the procession through the PROCESSIONS website.

PROCESSIONS is commissioned by 14-18 NOW, the UK’s arts programme for the First World War centenary and produced by Artichoke, with support from the National Lottery through Arts Council England and the Heritage Lottery Fund, and from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. It is based on an original idea by Artichoke’s creative director Darrell Vydelingum.

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