1918 is widely celebrated as an important milestone in the battle for democracy and gender equality in Britain, this being the year that women first gained the right to vote under the Representation of the People Act (thanks largely to the passionate campaigning of the Suffragettes). Yet the new law only extended suffrage to women over the age of 30, and who met certain property qualifications. It wasn’t until 1928, a whole decade later, that the Equal Suffrage Act was finally passed, granting all men and women the same electoral rights (and even making women the electoral majority in the 1929 general election).
But what of the vast number of women that remained silenced during the 10-year interlude between the passing of the two bills? As part of Wonder Women 2018, Quarry Bank presents the launch of its new exhibition, dedicated to the ‘lost voices’ of this period – as the majority of the cotton mill’s female workforce would have been. Lost Voices takes the form of a series of powerful installations across Quarry Bank that, thanks to a new body of research, attempt to recapture the experiences of these women, silenced because of their age, status or means.
The launch event will include a special guided tour and the opportunity to see some of the archive documents uncovered during the research for the exhibition.