Festival of Ideas – documentation

Bristol Feminism Past and Present in association with the Festival of Ideas, May 19 2011

This event brought together two feminists who were active in Bristol in the 1970s, Ellen Malos and Dale Wakefield, and contrasted their experience with two contemporary feminists, Jane Mornement and Helen Mott.

Listen to the clips of their speeches and enjoy the photo documentation, courtesy of Ellie Kynaston.

Ellen Malos

Dale Wakefield

Jane Mornement

Helen Mott

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More documentation…

With thanks to Ellie Kynaston for the photos.

Random feminist things to touch and hold

Breathing Fire, who performed on the opening evening

A selection of Breathing Fire's performance fabrics

Imagine a young Ellen Malos wearing this dress as 'Last Year's Miss Australia.' Obviously she wouldn't be hanging from the rafters.

The soundposts! Designed by Sal.

And here's a message from our sponsors...

The Pat VT West poetry evening Wednesday 18 May 2011

Rachel Bentham, Rive Gauche collaborator & Pat's fellow poetry diva

The lovely Gill Hague

Libby Houston

The delightful Shirley Brown

And they applauded rapturously because....

Ta da!

Shirley got her wasp costume out!

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Documentation – events

Rosemary Schonfeld’s Drumming Workshop Sunday 22 May

Rosemary takes us through the rudiments of rhythm

Get down!

One happy drummer...

Beat it out

and shake...

Women in Manual Trades Discussion 25 May 2011

Sam proudly introduces Helen, Ann and Fox

The audience listen, fascinated by Helen's talk and her magic shoes

Glum faces, but with only 2% of people who do manual trades in the UK being women, you can understand why

You can listen to discussion below

For more about Women in Manual Trades see the 1978 programme A Woman’s Place from the BBC’s fascinating archive of programmes about Women’s Liberation.

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Over and Out…

…well not quite.

But pretty soon activity on this blog will be wrapped up – after the final documents are uploaded.

Its been quite an amazing few weeks.

Many people have come and enjoyed the Sistershow Revisited exhibition and learnt about the early days of the Bristol WLM, but now the archive is tucked away safely in Bristol Special Collections.

Safe until some other people, struck by the need for re-channelling political inspiration, decide they want to dust it off and share it again.

Let’s hope it is not another 40 years….

In the meantime, if you didn’t get a catalogue and you want one, you can buy it here.

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Sistershow – Press

Here is a collection of all the press coverage Sistershow Revisited has got in local and international media (so far!)

‘Sister Act’ by Steve Wright in Venue Magazine, May 2011.

Sistershow Revisited by Jane Mornement

‘Satirical, Savvy and Sensational’ by Deborah Withers in the Bristol Evening Post. Read here.

Interview with Bess Korey in Make/Shift magazine Spring/ Summer 2011.

Interview with Lynette Quinlan on BCFM‘s The Hum, 5 May 2011

Interview with ShoutOut Radio on BCFM 28 April 2011

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More pictures

Kes, Bristol’s kindest and most helpful man with a van.

But his strength was nothing compared to this fine specimen.

How many queers does it take to put up a photograph?

Its all about the process

Opening day!

Alison Rook, Ellen Malos and Jill Robin

Zine making for 8 year olds

And again…

Houdie and the Sea play the all ages show

The Hysterical Stars!

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Sistershow Revisited animation by Kayleigh Gibbons

After surviving the zine making workshop and all-ages gig at the exhibition today, I come home to find this splendid animation made by Kayleigh Gibbons in my inbox.

Check it out!

Untitled from Kayleigh Gibbons on Vimeo.

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Silks Sows Ear & Drumming Workshop

This Sunday why not pop down to the exhibition and catch a showing of Silk Sows Ear, a film about feminist music scenes in the early 1980s. We will show the film at 1pm.

You can see a trailer here:

The film was digitised as part of the Women’s Liberation Music Archive project that was launched this year. The archive aims to map the feminist and women’s music scenes of the 1970s and 1980s. It contains video, music, personal testimonies, oral histories and much more! Check it out.

Following the film showing from 2-4 there will be a drumming workshop with Rosemary Schonfeld. She will be taking participants through her drumatrix philosophy.

This event is women only. Trans women, and polygendered people who feel they have links with women’s communities are welcome to attend.

Entry is £3-5 but no one will be turned away for lack of funds.

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Jan Martin reflects on the artistic practise of Jackie Thrupp

The text below was read out by Jan Martin, the design brains behind the exhibition, at the opening tea-party on Saturday 7 May.

Enjoy reading about how her engagement with Jackie Thrupp’s work has enriched her creativity. The text also offers insight into the ideas behind what Jackie was doing with her unique visual style.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

When I began looking at the material in the archive I realised that Jackie Thrupp, the energy behind Sistershow’s unique visual style, was a formidable creative force – in the visual arts, but also in poetry and music, theatre and in the way she lived her life – for change.

By introducing me to Jackie Thrupp’s work this project has helped me to trace the line of my own artistic influences while connecting with women of previous generations, to identify common struggles and recognise how far we’ve come and how much further there is to go. I am, as Jackie was, a fan of the Dada movement with it’s message of breaking down to reassemble – with cut up and collage techniques used as a metaphor for social change. Jackie used these techniques to the same ends, as a way of overturning expectations and dismantling accepted realities, to challenge the status quo and effect change.

Her visual work was iconic and groundbreaking and has in no way dated since the 1970’s, but still seems fresh and exciting. All I have done in revisiting the Sistershow design is bring it into the digital world in order to help communicate the ideas in a contemporary context. The inspiration, visual material, humour, and atmosphere are all still uniquely the work of Jackie Thrupp and the Sistershow Group.

Jan Martin, May 2011

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Monica As I Knew Her by Ros Beauhill

After the success of the fantastic ‘Feminism, Spirituality and Politics’ workshop cum ritual that took place on Tuesday night at the exhibition, I thought it would be a good idea to upload an article by Ros Beauhill that, for reasons of textual consistency, did not make the catalogue.

This piece of writing reflects on Ros’s friendship with Monica Sjoo, the Bristol-based painter and activist.

Monica As I Knew Her

Monica and I met at the first meeting of a women’s spirituality group in Bristol in 1990, before the group took on a broader definition and the name Ama Mawu. It was only a few years since the deaths of 2 or her 3 sons and she was still grieving profoundly. She was nevertheless out in the world of Goddess spirituality again, painting, writing and meeting people. How did she do it?

It seemed to me that Monica gained her strength in a number of ways, primarily though, through her evangelising faith in the Goddess. This faith was the motivating force behind all her amazing and beautiful painting. At the same time she was a powerful feminist and these two aspects reinforced each other. She introduced me to Goddess spirituality and our friendship was helped along by the fact we were both mothers of a bunch of sons, and we had similar egalitarian anarchist activist politics.

Monica was often very intense and quite bossy, but she could be lighthearted too and loved to sing and dance. She always refused to take responsibility for organising or leading Ama Mawu, saying it was up to all of us what we did and how we did it, which was wonderfully empowering for us. However, the group gained enormously from her extensive knowledge of Goddess matters and old pagan ways.

In the first year of Ama Mawu Monica and I and two other women went on a weeks trip into West Wales, where she took us to many ancient sacred sites explaining her view of their meaning and how steeped that was in nature’s rhythms, the turning of the year and the sacred relationship between us, the Earth and the Moon and Sun. We slept out among the dolmen and had strange dreams and went slightly mad.

Ama Mawu usually came together in each others homes on full moon evenings. Sometimes though we would travel out to the Avebury stones and then sleep out on Silbury Hill. We went to crop circles and to Glastonbury, or to hidden corners on the Downs, Brandon Hill or Leigh Woods. We had much time talking through personal problems and supporting each other in difficult times. Monica was normally sympathetic and very loving with us, although she could be impatient at times. We began our political activity at the time of the Gulf War which horrified all of us. So we joined marches and vigils and made peace rituals.

Monica was a brilliant networker, always copying and sending on out leaflets and information on anything she thought we might support and be interested in. She and I got involved in anarchist events, anti racism events and eco feminist politics, and especially the GM crops issue. Ama Mawu also instigated and organised two national womens “End Patriarchy” weekends of discussions, workshops, events and parties in Bristol.

In 1997 Monica collapsed with an appendicitis. A couple of years later she had a breast cancer. She was also being troubled with a hernia. These illnesses were the led into her final slow decline into bone cancer and her untimely death in 2005. But during those years she still travelled a lot, always on Goddess activity, giving talks and slideshows of her work and of sacred sites, and attending events and camps. She walked a lot, swam regularly and painted – often really large work. In the late 80s and again a few years later she was overjoyed to have become a grandmother. When her son Toivo and his partner Annie moved to Spain and then Portugal she always visited them for a month each year.

Monica was unlike anyone I ever knew. I was privileged to be her friend and be able to share those years with her.

Ros Beauhill, March 2011

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