Imagine that fifteen women gather. They have a conversation that maps eight geographic arteries across England (like points on a compass) and Wales. These arteries reach out towards a singular destination, (like roots forming a tree). The destination is Hyde Park.
It's June, 1913 and the Great Suffrage Pilgrimage begins.
In Cornwall, women start. Start walking along one of these arteries.
Carrying a banner saying: Land's End to Hyde Park.
What they want is to end child poverty.
What they want is to stop the white slave traffic.
What they want is to end sweated labour.
But they know they can't do this unless they have the right to vote. So they go where the heat is. To rally. To recruit. To be heard. Showing great courage in the face of opposition.
In Cornwall, women start. Walking all the way. Many joining them. Marking border crossings. Singing the same songs. Placing one foot in front of another. Together.
And fifteen women become tens of thousands of people.
It is July 26th, 1913. Hyde Park.
And the South West women are there. Sharing the same oxygen.
Dreadnought South West Association is a new organisation that works with arts and heritage to champion women’s voices and stories. Our first major project celebrates the centenary of The Great 1913 Suffrage Pilgrimage and asks, ‘What is important to women today’?
We will tour a new play, ‘Oxygen’, performing at many of the stopping places along the South West route of the original Pilgrimage (see below for a preliminary list). There will be responding arts and heritage waymarker projects taking place and a series of land journeys connecting the region from Land’s End to Marlborough in Wiltshire, ensuring that women’s voices are heard across the SW in 2013.
Keep an eye out for our Hyde Park Speaker’s Corner events and short episodes of ‘Oxygen’ being played out on the streets of a village, town square or city venue near you!
LAND’S END (19th June 2013), St Just-in-Penwith, Penzance, Cambourne, Truro, Bodmin, Liskeard, Saltash, Plymouth, Ivybridge, Totnes, Newton Abbot, Teignmouth, Dawlish, Starcross, Exmouth, Topsham, Exeter, Taunton, Wellington, Street & Glastonbury, Bristol, Bath, Corsham, Chippenham, Marlborough, Richmond, London & Hyde Park (26th July).
DSW is supported using public funding by Arts Council England and has over 100 other partners (individuals, groups and organisations) who are supporting us.
How can you be involved? Are you a woman with something to say?
What issues are important to you today?
Watch this space for more information coming soon on how you can get involved, in your own locality or at any point along the route, as an individual or as part of a group.
Josie Sutcliffe & Natalie McGrath (Project Directors)
January 9th 2013