Thursday 29th May 2014

I met with Dr Diane Atkinson today. I was pretty nervous, as I know she’s a top academic and has written so many books on suffrage.

We meet in a café off Old Street and as soon as I see her I know we will hit it off. She had a great outfit on – a blue and white stripy top with a red and white stripy skirt. I like her style.

She is currently writing a new book on the suffragettes, so we discussed the misconception that all the women’s movements didn’t get on. (This served a purpose for the media). In fact there was a huge amount of crossover and collaboration – ‘a porosity’ –  the single word I took away with me – it’s a great word to translate visually. I wonder if the way I use light in my installation could have a gradation of colour, reflecting this idea of porosity rather than distinct separate colour?

We discussed suffragettes as ‘terrorists’ and how being in prison politicised them further – their behaviour becoming more extreme.

At this point we meandered off and talked about my Send Prison Women’s Art Group and my experience and feelings about working in this environment. It helps to talk to others about it; it’s such an intense experience.

Diane suggested that when I go to the Museum of London next, to check out the letters written on loo rolls from the suffrage prisoners.

We reflected on the ripple effect of Emily Davison’s death at Epsom racecourse. Herbert Jones the jockey who committed suicide in 1951. ‘Ripple effect’ is another phrase that has cropped up for me throughout this research.

Come back on Tuesday 6 September 2016, when Mary witnesses Parliament’s preparations for the State Opening of Parliament…