Stories of Women, Work and Uncertain Futures at Manchester Art Gallery

Maja Lorkowska, Exhibitions Editor
a grid of 18 women standing looking straight on
Mark Thomas, Soup Collective

Stories of Women, Work and Uncertain Futures at Manchester Art Gallery, City Centre 8 March 2024 Entrance is free — Visit now

Manchester Art Gallery presents Stories of Women, Work and Uncertain Futures, the third exhibition of the Uncertain Futures project initiated by US artist Suzanne Lacy.

Uncertain Futures began in 2019 and was developed by the artist together with Ruth Edson of Manchester Art Gallery. As Lacy is a leading mind in socially engaged art and community organising, the project was entirely guided by an Advisory Group formed of women over 50, from local diverse communities. It has and continues to explore themes of age, gender, race, disability and class and how these characteristics play a role in paid and unpaid work, and most importantly the discrimination that is often present in the context of employment. 

This final part of the project has resulted in a new three channel film, woven from 100 interview excerpts, with participants gathered through workshops, ‘Chai and Chat’ sessions and media presentations open to the public. It consists of layered women’s voices sharing their stories, which highlights the universality of their experiences. The similarity of their accounts creates a poignant message about the difficulties faced by such a large group of women but the film’s power lies in giving a voice to the people directly affected by the issues discussed. It’s displayed alongside photographs of all of the women interviewed, a project manifesto and a documentary which sums up the research findings. 

The Uncertain Futures advisory group is made up of 14 women, from various groups with activist and leadership roles in their communities. Over the period of three years the group met regularly to discuss intersectional issues concerning the lives of older women and work in order to advocate for and drive policy change. Their commitment was noticed and the project was included as a case study in the UN’s Decade of Healthy Ageing Progress Report 2021-2023 for its important contribution to national progress on healthy ageing

This project is a wonderful example of successful community engaged art practice, where critical yet previously ignored issues are brought to public attention. While change does not happen overnight, somebody must first ask the question and Uncertain Futures does exactly that. 

Stories of Women, Work and Uncertain Futures at Manchester Art Gallery, City Centre 8 March 2024 Entrance is free Visit now

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