Our main purpose is to connect individuals, groups and communities through discovering and sharing previously unknown stories about the rich intersectional heritage of women and girls in the South West. We produce bold, high-quality cultural heritage projects that inspire, engage, educate and raise awareness throughout our region, based on our belief in the power of stories. We are an LGBTQ+ led organisation.
Our Dynamic Collection; Rebellious Sounds Archive highlights this as the very first touring mobile and digital community archive collection of women’s activism in the UK. Taking this unique heritage to communities is central to our ethos and purpose. Sharing digitally enables us to adapt to global change.
We collaborate with artists, archivists, heritage practitioners, heritage, arts and community organisations, community leaders and groups to offer free access to this heritage through a range of creative workshops and activities. We work with museums to open up fresh perspectives on how we can interact and view their collections in relationship to the heritage of women. We work with participants and communities, with a listening in ethos that creates strong engagement offers. We create inclusive spaces that welcome trans and intersex women, non-binary and gender fluid people who are comfortable celebrating women centred stories and heritage.
We began nearly ten years ago touring the first of two Arts Council England supported original new plays written and directed by Co-Directors Natalie McGrath and Josie Sutcliffe. Oxygen was about the previously unknown story of the 1913 Great Women's Suffrage Pilgrimage from Land's End to Hyde Park. Inspiring 45 associated community waymarker heritage projects. Songs from the play have been sung by thousands of people. The Cause was an imagined meeting between suffrage leaders Emmeline Pankhurst and Millicent Fawcett, marking the first votes for some women in 1918. It complemented the development and launch of the Rebellious Sounds Archive tour and is published by Methuen & Co.
We now deliver two pillar activities: the Rebellious Sounds Archive, and Occupy the Airwaves, an annual 16 hour community radio broadcast on International Women’s Day.
Rebellious Sounds Archive is an inspiring catalyst to discuss and celebrate ways in which a rich diversity of women from the Southwest have contributed to creating social change in their communities. This collection currently contains sixty intersectional stories from participants whose ages span 80 years. Geographically these stories range from Penzance in Cornwall to Chippenham in Wiltshire.
Our inaugural project demonstrated how women’s often overlooked heritage could be relevant, re-imagined, re-interpreted by creating spaces of connectivity, participation, learning, and joy. One participant from a community choir premiering six new archive-inspired songs said at a celebration event: ‘People had a fire in their belly and there were tears in the house.’
Occupy the Airwaves is community-led. Participants range from the first Arab/English broadcast in our region, Refugee, Disabled, LGBTQ+, Hindu, Muslim women, Women of Windrush, climate crisis activists, farming and punk. Providing free training in Radio Production to support new ways of sharing women’s stories, to create wider reach and legacy.
Currently we are in a period of organisational resilience thanks to the National Lottery Heritage Fund, where we will be focusing on our Dynamic Collection: The Rebellious Sounds Archive through a series of residencies and creative activities as well as emboldening ourselves as an organisation to look towards the future and what that might look like.
Celebrating 10 Years
As part of our National Lottery Heritage Fund project, we were in residence at Kresen Kernow for a week in June 2023. We ran a number of free events including singing and drop-in sessions. The Rebellious Sounds Archive was also be at Kresen Kernow from 3 May to 29 June.
Here are some of the events we ran
A Day with Outback: A Lesbian Lifeline
Tuesday 13th June
On an unassuming shelf at Kresen Kernow, the Cornwall records office, lie two boxes of queer joy. They contain 140 issues of the Outback Newsletter for Lesbians in Cornwall and the Far South West: a newsletter written, produced, and distributed by a group of gay women based primarily in Penzance between 1996 and 2008.
Self published LGBTQ+ magazines were an incredibly important resource to the community in pre-internet days. For the first time, lesbian women living in rural areas of Cornwall and the far South West were able to make contact with one another, plan events, organise protests, provide support and ultimately grow a community.
Newsletters like Outback helped build the LGBTQ+ community in Cornwall, and their impact cannot be underestimated.
Come and explore the Outback issues with Queer Kernow and Dreadnought South West.
We'll spend the morning exploring the collection and chatting about how these newsletters resonate today. (11-1pm)
In the afternoon there's a chance to get hands on creatively, creating your own zine exploring the themes of Activism, Environmentalism, Community building, Creative Writing and Support. (2-4pm)
10.30am arrival for welcome, tea and coffee.
Songs of Rebellion
Wednesday 14 June
Kresen Kernow and Dreadnought South West present with The Ingleheart Singers and The Suitcase Singers led by Claire Ingleheart.
Book now for this free event celebrating women’s voices and stories with Claire Ingleheart and her choirs. Songs are inspired by stories from Dreadnought South West’s Rebellious Sounds Archive, the play Oxygen about the Great 1913 Women's Suffrage Pilgrimage, and amazing Cornish Women.
Join us for an evening of songs and chat, and quite possibly some pasties and beer!
Doors open 6.15pm, refreshments available (cash donations).
There is limited parking at Kresen Kernow but there are lots of nearby car parks in Redruth and the train station is only a short walk away.
This event will also be supporting Georgia's Voice, a local charity where donations will also be welcome.
Find out more about Georgia's Voice
Rebellious Sounds Archive drop-in session
Wednesday 14 June, 11-1pm and
Saturday 17 June 11am-2pm
Free and drop-in session, all ages welcome.
Join Dreadnought South West’s Co-Directors to hear about the origins of the Rebellious Sounds Archive, take time to listen to the amazing stories in our beautiful installation, and to think about what directions an intersectional feminist collection such as this could take in the future.
A drop in session with the Rebellious Sounds archive and tea & coffee.
Craftivism Medal Making Workshop
Saturday 17 June, 11am-2pm
Free and drop-in, no need to book, all ages welcome.
Come and join us for a relaxed and informal women's craftivist workshop. Make your own 'medal of everyday courage' to celebrate individual women and organisations you know who care for and support women and girls in Cornwall.
We will provide the materials and the space to create, converse and connect – you just need to bring yourselves and your ideas on who we should be celebrating! No previous experience necessary.”