To mark International Women’s Day and LCF’s Year of the Woman, we are pleased to announce our involvement in the national art project Processions. Together with Historic England and artist Lucy Orta, LCF are working with inmates at HMP Downview women’s prison to produce a banner as part of Artichoke’s nationwide mass-participation art project.

In 1918, the Representation of the People Act gave the first British women the right to vote and stand for public office. One hundred years on, Processions invites women and girls across the UK to mark this historic moment, as part of a living portrait of women in the 21st century.  On Sunday 10th June 2018, women and girls in Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh and London will walk together as part of this celebratory mass participation artwork. Processions is an invitation for every woman in the country to take part in an event inspired by women for women, to honour the past, celebrate the present and aspire to a better future for all.

In addition to the events, one hundred women artists have been commissioned to work with communities across the UK to create one hundred centenary banners. The banners will represent and celebrate the diverse voices of women and girls from different backgrounds.

Holloway Prison was one of the most notorious sites associated with the suffrage movement in London: over 1000 suffragettes were imprisoned there.  We will connect women at HMP Downview, some of whom were the final residents of Holloway, with the suffragettes through educational and making workshops, and finally the collaborative production of one of these banner artworks.

The workshops will focus on text and textiles, echoing the practices of the women’s suffrage campaign – but importantly, they will also be spaces to consider what it means to be a woman today, the power of the vote today, and our shared future.

We kick started the proceedings this month by giving every woman at HMP Downview a Processions information and resource pack. These packs contained gifts from our friends at Sisters Uncut, 4th Estate, Penguin Classics and Seawhite of Brighton. Everything was packaged in a sustainable bag, which was constructed from materials found across LCF sites by specialist technician Sarah Weightman. The bags were made inside HMP Downview at LCF’s fashion training and manufacturing unit, Making For Change.

Throughout March, Lucy Orta and LCF will deliver a programme of educational and exploratory workshops, connecting participants with the women’s rights and feminism movements through craft techniques.  Last week  Caitlin Davies, author of Bad Girls: A History of Rebels and Renegades visited the prison to tell the story of the suffragettes at Holloway, to which the women at HMP Downview are invited to respond through creative writing.

This week we have Gillian Murphy from the Women’s Library visiting, to show subversive textile items and banners made by the suffragettes in Holloway, followed by a responsive embroidery workshop.  Next week Clare Hunter, a specialist banner artist will come to talk about the history of banners and banner making, and deliver an embellishment and technique workshop.  Finally, MA Fashion Futures students will deliver a workshop on fashion activism and messaging, followed by a reactive print workshop.

Throughout April and May, Lucy Orta and LCF will work closely with the women to collaboratively produce the banner art work representing the women of HMP Downview.  The final banner artwork created by the women will be carried at the Processions event in London on 10th June 2018 by LCF students and staff.

  • Better Lives at LCF
  • To join in on 10th June, register your interest here.
  • Want to make your own banner?  Artichoke have provided guides and toolkits to help you, accessible here.
  • Want to learn more about the legacy of the women’s suffrage movement? Historic England are researching, highlighting and listing places that played a part in the struggle for suffrage and subsequent gender equality through their HerStories campaign.