This paper has highlighted the exhibition on British women’s suffrage, which took place between May and October, 2010 at the Women’s Library in London. The exhibition Out of the Archives was commissioned by Olivia Plender and Hester Reeve. …
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From the research it can be comprehended that the Women’s Library in London, founded in 1926 by leading suffragist Millicent Fawcett, has the “oldest and largest collection of women’s history in the UK”. The internationally well-known specialist library has extensive collections of books and various artefacts in its archives and museum, on the lives of women in Britain. The material related to women’s suffrage includes posters, photographs, postcards, badges and other mementos reflecting women’s efforts to gain equality with men for the right to be voted towards full representation in the parliament. For the first time in its history, the Women’s Library showed original art works inspired by items in its collection, in the exhibition Out of the Archives extending from May to September, 2010, curated by Anna Colin. The exhibition explored the relationship between art and political campaigning, highlighting events, objects and movements from women’s history in Britain. Included in the diverse selection of archives on women’s campaigns and struggles, is depicted the association between art production and destruction as a part of the women’s suffrage movement. For the exhibition Out of the Archives, artists Olivia Plender and Hester Reeve took into consideration “the troubled, turbulent and sometimes contradictory relationship between suffragettes and art”. The artists Olivia Plender and Hester Reeve used a range of items from the Women’s Library archives including “magazines, reports, photographs and posters”....
They created three works that examined the strategies used by the suffragettes in denouncing women’s subjugation. In the exhibition they present an illustrated chapbook, describing the suffragettes’ skilled means of attracting media attention. The artists question the conventional differentiation between art and politics, exploring the “militant attacks waged on famous art works by suffragettes and artists such as Mary Richardson” (Admin, The Women’s Library, 2010) and other trained artists including “Sylvia Pankhurst, Barbara Leigh Smith, and perhaps most importantly of all, Emily Dickinson” (Jones, 2010). Plender and Reeve also took into consideration the futurist F.T. Marinetti’s comparison between militant suffragettes’ techniques and 20th century avant-garde strategies against the bourgeois art institution (The Commissions, 2010). When Reeve and Plender began researching for the Out of the Archives exhibition, they decided to utilize the opportunity to build on the idea that occurred to them when they first met the previous year. This was related to the celebration of Emily Davison Day on June 4th every year. They examined the suffragette’s actions and addressed the relationship that she had with art and politics, and how the two were combined together. In June 2010 the first official celebration of Emily Davison Day took place, when Plender and Reeve paid a visit to the same event, the Derby that had marked the end of Davison’s life nearly a century ago in 1913. They have established the Emily Davison Lodge to commemorate the suffragette, and registered her anniversary as an annual public holiday, to celebrate her fatal deed to win the vote for women (Jones, 2010). Both Reeve and
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