"The Pankhurst Centre is an iconic site of women’s activism, past and present. Emmeline Pankhurst and her family lived at number 62 Nelson Street from 1898 until 1907, and the first meeting of the movement that became known as the Suffragettes took place in the parlous of this house!"- The Pankhurst Trust
2018 marked 100 years since ‘some’ women gained the right to vote and as part of the centenary celebration Manchester held a number of events and projects throughout the year as it was named as one of the U.K. Government’s ‘Centenary Cities’ because of the significant role it played in the early suffrage movement.
Rachel volunteered as an ambassador for the Pankhurst Centre's Centenary City Exhibition -this involved co-curating the exhibition with the other amazing Ambassadors and by the incredible Pankhurst Centre Curator, Dr Tessa Chynoweth- this included a wide range of pieces from video to sound bites from personal items to specially commissioned items and donations such as from the brilliant Stacey Copeland - they were truly amazing pieces and made the exhibition even more special.
In 2018 we made two bespoke dresses for two amazing women, Simone Roche and Marnie Millard, who were receiving their MBE and OBE at Buckingham Palace. For our exhibition piece we wanted to bring together elements of both their dresses to celebrate these amazing power women and all the incredible women before them and we named it ‘The Northern Power Dress’.
‘The Northern Power Dress’ was made in the pattern of Simone’s dress: a long-sleeved top with a high neck and hand sewn buttons down the back of the top with a high-low midi skirt. The colour of the dress was in the beautiful purple colour used for Marnie’s dress - a nod to the ‘Suffragette purple’. To complete the dress we incorporated the linings of both Simone and Marnie’s dresses. The lining in the back of the dress was a print that Rachel had created with watercolours which had the words ‘Northern Power Women’ over the pattern. The lining in the front of the dress was a watercolour piece by Rachel which were the Vimto stripes of 1964. It was the Suffragette style reimagined.
The opening night was incredible. It was amazing to meet all the other contributors and to hear more about the exhibition and the events that were happening throughout Manchester. The exhibition ran from November through to March 2019 and we are extremely grateful to have been able to be a part of it amongst all the other amazing contributions and even more grateful to be a part of an amazing community right at the heart of where the Suffragette movement began.
Photography by Bernadette Delaney Photography.