[A] HUNDRED YEARS after women were first given the right to vote, a major artistic collaboration between a group of museums in the county has been launched.
Celebrating Women of Cumbria is a creative project involving 11 museums working with girls and women from Girlguiding, the WI, the Trefoil Guild and Soroptimists International.
The community groups have worked with artist Karen MacDougall to create a banner inspired by their local museum’s collection. These banners will be on display at the museums in 2018 and will also be taken on parade in Carlisle on Saturday 3 March 2018 – just before International Women’s Day.
Celebrating Women of Cumbria is also a trail created by the museums to reveal stories of the amazing and often unsung women in our communities.
Throughout 2018, you’ll find exhibitions and events to reflect on contemporary and historic roles women play in our county and celebrate the following themes:
Caring, Working, Striving, Creating, Aspiring, Achieving and The Right To Be Me.
Sue Mackay, Curator of Keswick Museum, said: “The celebration of Cumbrian women has been prompted by the anniversary of the centenary of women getting the first rights to vote. It made our museums think about how much of our collections are about women and how much is said about them in our museums. There’s a perception that museums are full of men and their history, come and look at the contribution that women have made. Many have not been nationally recognised, but are vital to their communities. We’ll be sharing stories about women who have given enormous amounts to their community and others who achieved extraordinary things in their lives. Women are often reticent to record their stories and to champion their successes. We’re hoping 2018 highlights and celebrates the incredible contribution women make across the county.”
Girlguiding Cumbria North, whose Girl Guides helped to make some of the banners, said: “What a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the lives of inspirational women whilst exploring our local heritage and having fun creating the banners.”
The project has been made possible with funding from Arts Council England via Museum Development North West and also from Cumbria Community Foundation.
Here’s what’s happening in the museums in 2018:
Votes for Women: Suffrage and Women’s Lives
Museum of Lakeland Life & Industry
A trail around the Museum highlighting women’s lives and suffrage struggle up to the Representation of the People Act 1918. Discover spotlight objects showing the variety and depth of women’s history in Cumbria and telling the story of the revolutionary suffrage campaigns.
13 January – 25 March
Edith Brown: Medicine Woman
The Beacon Museum, Whitehaven
Explore the life of Whitehaven’s Edith Brown, a trailblazer in women’s healthcare and education. One of the first women to attend Cambridge University, Brown later went to India as a missionary, where she founded a medical school to teach and provide healthcare for women.
A series of exhibitions at the Wordsworth Museum
Wordsworth Trust, Grasmere
We are celebrating the Wordsworth women and beyond through a series of exhibitions. The museum will explore the women behind the words of the poet; tell their stories through needlework, go in search of Mary Shelley (author of Frankenstein) and learn how Dorothy Wordsworth was a trailblazing mountaineer.
24 February – 3 June
Spinning the Colours of Lakeland: Annie Garnett’s Spinnery
The Ruskin Museum, Coniston
The story of a businesswoman inspired by Ruskin’s innovative Arts and Crafts initiative to design and produce gloriously coloured and embroidered fabrics.
Women in Cumbria
Tullie House, Carlisle
Tullie House will be celebrating the achievements of women in Cumbria through gallery trails, temporary displays, events and activities.
1 March – 1 June
Lorna Graves: Memories of Belonging
This exhibition celebrates the work of Lorna Graves, an important female Cumbrian artist and her relationship to the Eden Landscape. Her work often includes symbolic representations of local features, like standing stones.
March – October
Tales of Dorothy Wordsworth and servants’ lives
Wordsworth House and Garden, Cockermouth
Wordsworth House and Garden is the birthplace of Dorothy Wordsworth and her brother William. This beautiful home is presented as it would be in the 1770s. Join Amy, the maid-of-all-work, to hear about women’s lives in the past. Kathleen Jones and other speakers reveal Dorothy’s inspiring legacy.
3 March – 31 October
A Woman’s Place: Ambleside’s Feminist Legacy
The Armitt Museum and Library, Ambleside
Ambleside has been home to a remarkable number of outstanding women: Harriet Martineau, journalist and social commentator; Charlotte Mason, pioneering educationalist; Jemima Clough, educationalist; Beatrix Potter, The Armitt sisters and others. The Armitt Summer Exhibition celebrates their contribution to the life of Cumbria and beyond.
8 March – 13 May
Follow The Drum – Women’s Stories from the Regiment
Cumbria’s Museum of Military Life, Carlisle Castle
Share the highs and lows of military life from a woman’s perspective. The exhibition highlights women’s stories, from those that followed their husbands, to those that are currently in the Regiment, using their own words.
9 June – 9 September
Elizabeth Smith 1776 -1806 Blue Stocking, Linguist, Fell Walker
The Ruskin Museum, Coniston
The story of an independent minded, unconventional young woman who was equally fulfilled translating Job from the Hebrew or climbing Striding Edge.
June 2018 – March 2019
The Senhouse Museum, Maryport.
The Museum’s first exhibition (in the summer) will look at the fascinating stories of the women who lived with the Roman army. The second exhibition (in the winter) will look at the Senhouse women and their impact on the town of Maryport.
Celebrating Women of Cumbria today…
In addition to what’s happening in the museums, if you know of an ordinary or an extraordinary woman whose story deserves sharing, please upload a photo and the story to:
A Facebook Page “Celebrating Women of Cumbria” has been created to offer a joint platform for stories from the participating museums and also to encourage the sharing of stories of extraordinary women or unsung heroines living in our communities across the county today.