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.

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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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Slutwalk Bristol – introductory meeting

In the spirit of spontaneity and street-based feminist interventions that Sistershow embodied, a meeting to explore the possibility of holding a Slutwalk in Bristol is taking place tomorrow, 15th May at Centrespace Gallery from 2-4pm.

The meeting is open to people who are for or against organising a Slutwalk in Bristol. The organisers know that it is a controversial subject that has so far divided Bristol’s feminist masses.

Read more on the event’s facebook page.

The venue is fully wheelchair accessible. Hope to see you there!

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Photos from the opening afternoon tea party, 7 May, 2011

Alison Rook and Phyl Chandler

Bencie Woll and Alison Rook

Introductory talk

Cherry Ann Knott from the Heritage Lottery Fund celebrates the relationship between the arts and heritage

Jan Martin talks design

Helen Taylor responds to the exhibition

The lovely Dominic Thrupp, sans drag outfit

Sistershow Reunited - front row, left-right Ellen Malos, Helen Taylor, Angela Rodaway; Middle Row, left-right Dominic Thrupp, Phyl Chandler, Alison Rook, Elaine Evenleigh; Back row, left-right Bencie Woll, Lynn Houlton, Jill Robin.


The miraculous Susan Croft


everyone joined in

Thanks to May Withers for taking these! Please send any more photos to

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Setting up!

There has been a steady stream of visitors at the exhibition since the grand opening on Saturday. Here are some pictures of us setting up the space. With thanks to Jan for the artistic vision, 2D for being butch, Jenny for being butch and documenting at the same time & Paul for being the incredibly helpful chap he is.

Blank Canvas

The photos

Jan works her magic

There’s nothing better than an empty exhibition case to fill

Getting there…

Just a little bit more to the left….

Phew! the book arrived in time. Make sure you get a copy!


And the public flocks in…

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Hidden Herstories – tomorrow! (12th May)

Tomorrow we are screening Hidden Herstories from 7-9pm.

The film profiles the lives of four hugely important – but often forgotten women – Octavia Hill, Amy Ashwood Garvey, Claudia Jones and Jayaben Desai. It offers engaging and moving portraits of the women, including interviews with people who knew them, academics and in the case of Jayaben Desai, the women themselves.

£3-5 entry, no one turned away because of lack of funds.

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