Snapping the Stiletto Festival – Can You Help?

HMS Westcliff Cooks - courtesy of Southend Museums

HMS Westcliff Cooks – courtesy of Southend Museums

It’s just under a month until our Women’s History Festival at the University of Essex Business School and we’re really excited. We’ve got a great range of contributors, who’ll we be talking about over the next few weeks, and tickets have been going so fast we’ve shuffled things around so we can add 100 extra seats.

We are currently recruiting volunteers to help us in the run up and on the day. Please can you help by signing up to one (or more) of the “volunteer challenges” below?

Social Media

Can you help spread the word about the festival amongst your friends, family and colleagues? We’re asking people to sign us as social media volunteers, who’ll keep an eye out for our posts on Twitter, Facebook and on our blog and share them on their own accounts. Click here to learn more or sign up.

Stewarding

We want everyone coming to our festival to have a great time, so we need some extra people to help us welcome attendees, show them where the different events are taking place and to assist with the evaluation. Click here if you’d like to help.

Donate

On the day, we’re going to be collecting items on behalf of two important causes. The Red Box Project battles period poverty by distributing sanitary products to young women via schools. Beauty Banks collect beauty and hygiene products and pass them on to those who need them via foodbanks and shelters. Click the links to find out more.

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Beauty Banks – Providing Essential Supplies

person washing his hand

Photo by Burst on Pexels.com

Sali Hughes, co-founder of Beauty Banks, described the birth of their organisation in a recent Guardian interview:

“While filming a report on homelessness for the BBC, I noticed a small box under the front desk of a homeless shelter. In it were single tampons, disposable razors, mini toothpaste tubes and mismatched tablets of soap. These, I discovered, were brought in by members of staff and volunteers, so that when homeless clients had a job or a housing interview, a health appointment, a period, they could access the hygiene essentials most of us are able to toss into a shopping trolley with scarcely a thought. I texted a photograph of the understocked crate to a friend and colleague, Jo Jones, and within 48 hours, we had launched Beauty Banks”.

Beauty Banks is a non-profit organisation – like Foodbanks but with essential personal care & beauty items instead. They collect, re-package and distribute parcels to their charity partners, registered foodbanks and shelters, who ensure donations get to those who need them.

At our Essex Women’s History Festival on Saturday 9th March, we will have a box where attendees who wish to donate can leave unused beauty and hygiene supplies such as face wash, shampoo, razors, shaving cream, deodorant, flannels, and moisturiser. We will then pass these items on to Beauty Banks.

If you can’t attend our festival but would still like to support Beauty Banks, or would like more information about them, please visit their Facebook page.

Pants to Period Poverty

Red box logoThe Red Box Project is a national initiative, supporting young people throughout their periods by providing red boxes filled with free period products to local schools. It was founded in March 2017 in Plymouth in response to articles about “Period Poverty” in the news, describing how young women are missing out on their education because they couldn’t afford the products they needed during their period.

 

At our upcoming festival, we are going to be collecting sanitary products for the Project to pass on to local young women.

If you are able to join us on Saturday 9th March and would like to donate, please bring along sealed packets of disposable towels, tampons or new underwear. If you would like more detailed donation guidelines or aren’t able to make it but would like to support The Red Box Project, more information can be found on their website.

There are still a few tickets available for our free Essex Women’s History Festival. They can be booked online here.

 

Charity Auction – Can You Help?

Dame Helen Mirren shoes image credit Helen Mirren PR UK

Shoes donated by Dame Helen Mirren are currently on display at Epping Forest District Museum. Image courtesy of Helen Mirren PR UK.

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Our “Essex Women; Adversity, Adventure and Aspiration” is currently on display at Epping Forest District Museum, who are organising a charity auction in aid of the women’s charity, Safer Places.

The exhibition itself reveals the hidden stories of women who lived in Essex and explores how women’s roles and opportunities have changed since the first UK women gained the right to vote in 1918. It also aims to dispel the negative stereotype of ‘Essex girls’ and their white stilettos, by highlighting the lives and achievements of Essex women.

Alongside our touring exhibition, Epping Forest District Museum are displaying shoes  worn by several notable Essex women with fascinating stories, including Sally Gunnell, Kate Silverton, Penny Lancaster and Dame Helen Mirren.

These celebrity shoe donations will form part of a charity auction being held at the museum in March in support of Safer Places, which supports women in Essex who are suffering from domestic abuse. The charity helps to rebuild their confidence and empower them to achieve what they thought would be impossible.

There will also be a raffle during the event.

If anyone would like to support the event with a raffle or auction prize please do get in touch with Epping Forest District Museum by calling 01992 716882 or emailing museum@eppingforestdc.gov.uk

Construction: A conference on identity

construction landscape

Construction: A conference on identity. Fashion/Curation/Art/Photography event, 2nd November 2018, 10:30-15:45, Beecroft Art Gallery

Tickets: £25 & £10 student tickets  (includes lunch and refreshments)

Join leading creatives at the Beecroft Art Gallery to explore identity creation through fashion, art, photography and fashion curation.

Snapping the Stiletto is about sharing inspiring stories of Essex women and how they lived their lives. For many of the women we have been researching they created distinct identities for themselves in the way they acted and presented themselves in public. At the Beecroft Art Gallery we are exploring the ways people construct identities for themselves in a one-day conference on the 2nd of November.

In an image-obsessed world the concept of identity is extremely topical. We have invited leading curators, designers, photographers and historians to bring in differing perspectives on concepts around identity creation and gender identity.

Speakers include: Art Historian, Dr Mark Banting will explore Virginia Woolf’s Orlando and the re-presentation of gender roles. James Cutmore, Founder of the fashion brand The Ragged Priest will be discussing how he designs for the modern woman. Dr Tracey Loughran, from the University of Essex will be speaking about women’s representation of the self.

Other speakers include, Martin Pel, Fashion and Textiles Curator at Brighton Museum discussing his Queer Looks project around LGBTQ identities and fashion photographer Tessa Hallmann. All are focusing on the ways we ‘construct’.

There will be lots of opportunities to ask questions and the day will finish on a panel discussion with all speakers.

20181016_101416.JPGThis day is in collaboration with the subversive fashion and art exhibition Construction: An Exhibition on Clothing, Image & Persona on show now at the Beecroft Art Gallery. Curatorial Manager Ciara Phipps will be sharing her design process and inspirations behind this zeitgeist exhibition. There will be opportunities throughout the day to explore the exhibition.

 

For tickets and more information visit Eventbrite

Booking is essential. It is advised to book your tickets soon.

Follow Southend Museums on Facebook for updates.

The Beecroft Art Gallery are part of Southend Museums service which has been researching campaigning Southend women as part of Snapping the Stiletto.

History Festival: Call For Content

EKCO works. c.1930s

We are excited to announce the Snapping the Stiletto: Essex Women’s History Festival. The FREE event will take place on Saturday 9th March 2019 at the University of Essex Business School, Wivenhoe.

The event, organised in partnership with the University of Essex, will bring together stories of inspirational women from around the county, as well as including a range of hands-on activities. Like the rest of the project, the festival is focussing on the hundred years since the Representation of the People Act 1918.

We would like to include as many people as possible in the event, so have launched our call for content. We are looking for:

  • 20 minute presentations about individuals or groups of Essex women
  • 8 minute “lightning” presentations
  • “Craftivism” art or craft activities
  • Introductory digital “maker” demonstrations
  • Films
  • Display stands/exhibits for relevant organisations
  • Other – if you have an exciting idea that’s not included above, we still want to hear from you

More information and an application form can be found here.

If you want to hear more about the festival, including when tickets become available, you can sign up to our mailing list.

“Singing” the Stiletto

“We’re brazen husseys and we don’t give a damn

We’re loud, we’re raucous and we’re fighting for our rights

And our sex and our need to be free”

(The Greenham Songbook)

 

Music is powerful. Patients with dementia often remember songs from their youth long after other memories have gone. The right melody can stir our emotions, moving us to tears or to the dancefloor. It is little wonder then that protest movements down the century have regularly used music as a call to action.

 

Probably the best known suffrage anthem is “March of the Women” by Ethel Smyth. She was a trained musician and a prolific composer, writing in a range of styles. Smyth was the first female composer ever to be made a Dame and, while serving two months in Holloway for breaking windows during the suffrage campaign, conducted a choir of her fellow inmates while using her toothbrush for a baton.

This performance is by Glasgow University Chapel Choir, but it is important to remember that it would have been sung by ordinary women as they protested, not just by formal choirs.

 

Ethel Smyth wasn’t the only woman writing suffrage songs, and the tradition of women writing and singing campaign songs didn’t end in 1918 with the vote. Music has been at the heart of campaigns including equal pay and nuclear disarmament. The handwritten Greenham Songbook, passed around between protesters, has been digitised and can be viewed online.

More recently, “Quiet” by Milck has been picked up by the anti-Trump women’s movement in America. This video shows her performing it with other women at the women’s march in Washington DC

 

We are really keen to incorporate music into the Snapping the Stiletto project. Do you know of any protest songs from the last 100 years which were written by an Essex woman? What were the Dagenham Ford workers singing as they campaigned for equal pay? Which lyrics filled the air at Brightlingsea as women campaigned against live exports? Are there any other “local” protest songs we should be singing? Please email pippa.smith@essex.gov.uk with your suggestions (and don’t worry, we know the lyrics may include a few swear words).