Museum and Gallery events for International Women's Day 2013

By Culture24 Reporter | 07 March 2013

Event preview: International Women's Day, various venues, March 8 2013

A photo of a woman covered in a blue dress and make-up giving a theatrical performance
Hayley Newman's The Volcano Lady (2005) is part of Wonder Women: Radical Manchester© Hayley Newman

From yarn-bombing in Rye to a festival featuring the launch of new book Fifty Shades of Feminism at the Southbank, we take a look at some of this year's Women's Day museum and gallery events.

At Manchester’s Castlefield Gallery, Emily Speed is part of a double-act show, called Head to Head, alongside fellow artist Hayley Newman.

Pondering Marcel Aymé’s ideas of incredible scenarios converging with earthly limitations, Speed has created a specially-commissioned work, Build Up, combining sculpture, architecture and anatomy, turning the female body into a building element as part of a piece developed with acrobats.

This is part of Wonder Women: Radical Manchester, a two-month programme of events across the city timed to coincide with International Women’s Day.

And for her part, Newman has made The Volcano Lady, using photographic documentation of her own re-enactment of a live volcano, allied with Speed’s drawings of partially-constrained bodies in a set of works channelling humour, sexuality and the tensions between the physical and metaphysical.

Mancunians have much cerebral stimulation to thank the 102nd international festival for. The programme at IWM North includes a debate on society in Iraq, a talk about First World War nurse Edith Appleton and visiting survivors from the conflicts in Kosovo and the former Yugoslavia.

Science is hot on the agenda this year. Try meeting some forgotten heroes in Scottish Women of Science, in Edinburgh, or at Trailblazers, the Discovery Museum’s impassioned attempt to fire up future lab pioneers in Newcastle – a reaction to concerns over fading investment and interest in the science and technology fields.

There are more than 300 intriguing events and exhibitions across the country, although the noble art of yarn-bombing catches the needle-threading eye in Rye.

Having held a couple of free knitting sessions, organisers are culminating their stitch-up with a Domestic Disturbance, taking exhibitions and workshops, interventions and “subversive performance” to the Creative School with a poet, a comedy duo and an acclaimed cabaret sweetheart.

More sweaty than seductive, The Workhouse – a set of work yards from the 19th century in Nottinghamshire – use oral history archives to give accounts by former matrons, nurses, seamstress, hairdresses, cooks and inmates, some of whom were reformers in buildings long since demolished.

“It provides a realistic record of the good things and the bad,” says Samantha Ball, one of the volunteers behind a show which has required hefty research. “The cruelties and seemingly insignificant details also help us interpret the real story of the workhouse.”

Generally more contemporary than historic, the Southbank Centre’s Women of the World festival manages to pack a staggering amount in between now and Sunday.

Naomi Wolf discusses her bestselling Vagina: A New Biography, The Clore Ballroom hosts the launch of new book Fifty Shades of Feminism, Jenni Murray talks about her favourite Women’s Hour interviews and Julie Walters reflects on her career.

There's also a gig by Grammy award-winning singer Angelique Kidjo and a show by the Resident Orchestra of the Age of Enlightment, whose conductor, Marin Alsop, is the only female to direct a major American orchestra.

Aside from the main theme, it might be hard to judge how much progress has been made since the movement began. Beamish Open Air Museum, in Durham, turns back to the North East woman’s suffrage movement, finding a degree of political prescience in their fight to change attitudes about providing for the young and poor.

Staff and community groups will be setting up a soup kitchen in a rework of the momentous Feeding of the Bairns of Gateshead, complete with the speeches, rosette making, spoonfuls of hot stuff and, apparently, even the drama.

The idea was to imbue the thin, pale faces of the bairns with colour in 1910, shaming the council into action following a Great Women’s Meeting. The taste of revolution still lingers.

More pictures:

A photo of feet and arms descending up and down flights of grey concrete stairs
Emily Speed's Build-up (2013) at Castlefield Gallery© Emily Speed
A photo of a woman wearing a bright orange, white and black balaclava
Knitting fun in Rye, Sussex
A black and white photo of a male and female musician standing next to each other
The Ivory Duo Piano Ensemble perform during the WOW festival at the Southbank Centre© Courtesy
A black and white photo of a girl in a soup kitchen at the start of the 20th century
The Beamish Museum will be re-enacting early attempts to look after the poor and hungry in the north-east© Beamish Museum
A monochrome photo of nurses and two men in suits standing outside a bygone buidling
Nursing staff outside The Workhouse in Southwell© The National Trust
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