Of all the archival objects that have been collected as part of the Sistershow Revisited project, it was finding a collection of receipts from the first Sistershow in 1973 that made me feel oddly emotional. How can something as inconsequential as a collection of receipts (that surely only the worst hoarders keep) create an emotional response, and what can they tell us about the activities of the Sistershow women?
Upon opening an envelope of expenses claims from Jackie Thrupp (that contained the simple message ‘Dear Helen, enclosed a few receipts, love Jackie Thrupp), there was a real sense I was opening something that hadn’t been touched for nearly forty years.
These envelopes contained information that to many people would seem inconsequential, yet they also reveal so much about the on-the-ground work of doing grassroots activism. The personal investment – of time, labour and money – that often remains invisible yet are subtly communicated by a bundle of fading receipts carefully kept by their original owners and then again, over the stretch of 40 years by Helen Taylor, filed away just in case they were needed again.
I was particularly drawn to Jackie’s receipts because it included a receipt for a letraset print which, I imagine, had been for the poster. From these receipts it is possible to reconstruct the physical gathering of objects needed to put on the show. I imagine women scurrying around the streets of Bristol with creative plots teeming within them and their receipts kept carefully in their pockets.