A couple of weeks ago I had confirmation that my piece ‘Lolita’s Sleepover’ aka my hands-and-knees MA quilt had been selected for exhibition at at even for International Women’s Day.
So yesterday I bundled it up, braved the Manchester one way system in search of a car park and finally arrived at the gallery. I knew that the night was going to be special when two women, seeing me wandering round gormlessly looking for the right studio greeted me with a cheery ‘Are you a feminist? It’s in there.’
It’s always lovely to meet the people who were previously just names on the bottom of emails, and after a few introductions, and a fiddle about working out how to display the quilt with the plinths available, I trotted off for a cuppa and to meet my lovely friend AJ who had braved the train all the way from Birmingham to share the day with me. Gossip exchanged, we started our wander around the galleries, and bumped into my friend and mentor Phil, of arthur+martha, and grabbed a programme – and of course looked to see where my work was and hurried off to have a look.
And there is was, in the gallery ‘In Pursuit of Beauty’, in front of Astarte Syriaca by Dante Gabriel Rossetti. I was in awe to see my work next to such a beautiful, iconic painting. The other feminist artwork in the same gallery was fantastic – I thought I’d had a hard time embroidering over paper but the art opposite mine was a dressing table with mirror writing embroidered into the wood. My quilt wasn’t the pinkest thing there, either, Pink to Make the Boys Wink by Robyn Nichol, complete with vibrators, baby name band, Feminax and shoes, outpinked me by a factor of ten. Kate, one of the organisers, displayed a handmade book (a woman after my own heart).
< Photo by Jenny White @photo_jenn
I probably shouldn’t admit to how much I enjoyed looking at people looking at my art, so we will gloss over that bit. Scott, my MA course leader arrived, shortly followed by my children (kindly delivered by my ex-husband), giving me more excuses to go back for another look.
There were fantastic pieces of art throughout the galleries, performances and even a rock band making some excellent noise. The gallery was buzzing (during the introduction it was so rammed that AJ accidentally butted a man with the back of her head as he tried to squeeze past and we retired to the gift shop where there was more breathing space). I was surprised, reading the information about the event, to find out that several of the galleries are normally completely devoid of work by female artists. The Feminist Takeover was a true transformation of the space. The people I met were brilliant and I hope we can work together in the future. I am so proud to have been involved with such a fantastic, successful event. Here I am being all pleased with myself.