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Hard Craft

Juliet Fleming and Sarah-Joy Ford

15 Nov - 15 Dec 2018
Wednesday–Saturday, 12–5pm

First Floor,
Commercial Union House,
39 Pilgrim Street,
Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 6QE


Women, like craft, are often portrayed as pleasant and placid. This exhibition celebrates protest and outrage, stitched into fabric and fired in the kiln. The suffragettes created a visual language of resistance through posters, pamphlets, banners, sashes, handkerchief-petitions and ceramic tableware. Many seemingly domestic objects became weapons of dissent and symbols for a societal revolution. On the 100-year anniversary of partial women’s suffrage in the UK, this exhibition of collaborative work draws upon the material histories of dis-obedient craft.

Alongside the aesthetics of protest the exhibition also responds to the history of anti-suffragette propaganda. In particular the use of animalistic imagery that has long been a method employed to oppress and degrade marginalised groups as lesser, other and sub- or non-human. Here the artists are reclaiming an old insult depicting women as cats; gathering together symbols of female power and resistance. Through craft techniques these works celebrate a radical past, acknowledge the continuing struggle for equal rights, and make a hopeful gesture toward a feminist future.

Juliet Fleming was born in London in 1991 and lives in Newcastle upon Tyne. She is the Director of GOLDTAPPED, an artist-led initiative providing space for experimentation, development and support emerging artist practices.

Sarah-Joy Ford was born in Cheshire in 1993 and lives in Manchester. She is co-director of SEIZE Projects, Leeds, and the Queer Research Network Manchester.

Archive Screening: There is Power in the Material
Thursday 6 December 6-8pm

A screening of feminist film and video from Cinenova, a volunteer-run charity preserving and distributing the work of feminist film and video makers. The moving image works explore the politics of domestic spaces and highlight the use of craft media within feminist and queer protest movements.

Talk: Helen Antrobus: Activism on our sleeves: radical women and dress
Saturday 15 December 2-4pm

Join Helen Antrobus as she brings the stories of radical women’s protest from 1819 to 2018 to life. Antrobus is a curator and historian, specialising in the history of radical and political women, particularly in the women’s suffrage movement. She is a regular contributor to programmes made for BBC television and radio.

The screening and talk are free events but places are limited and booking is essential. Contact the gallery at events@vane.org.uk