Wednesday 11th June 2014

Today I have a meeting with Beverley Cook from the Museum of London.

She has arranged for me to see a selection of postcard images and letters from their suffragette collection.

I am searching today, I think, to see if the icon of the new dawn is truly a genuine image for the movement, as is it something that I would like to incorporate in my piece.

Postcard published by the Suffrage Atelier, c.1912.

Postcard published by the Suffrage Atelier, c.1912. By kind permission of the Museum of London (ID no: 50.82/798)

As I search the postcards it quickly becomes apparent that it is a key symbol. A lot of the imagery has strong horizon lines and the weather and tide is made clearly apparent. How very British! I discuss this with Beverley. I leave thinking about the idea of using a barometer or tidal clock to affect the lighting of the work. I feel cheered again.

'King Asquith Canute And The Inevitable Tide', postcard published by the Suffrage Atelier, c.1910.

‘King Asquith Canute And The Inevitable Tide’, postcard published by the Suffrage Atelier, c.1910. By kind permission of the Museum of London (ID no: 50.82/1640)

'The New Mrs Partington (of the Anti Suffrage Society)', postcard by Ernestine Mills, c.1910.

‘The New Mrs Partington (of the Anti Suffrage Society)’, postcard by Ernestine Mills, c.1910. By kind permission of the Museum of London (ID no: 50.82/864) © Ernestine Mills, administrator V I Cockcroft

Before I go, Beverley gets out the loo paper letters from the suffragettes in Holloway.

I’m shaken when reading the letters of women who are struggling with being in prison. It immediately transports me back to my women’s art group in HMP Send. Prison is a terrible place now; God knows how bad it was 100 years ago. How brave these women were, how scared they must have been. I look at the list of women that were imprisoned for the suffrage campaign – it’s in alphabetical order, I come across the name Mary Grace Branson – I wonder if she is a distant relative?

In the afternoon I travel to the Excel Centre to experience the world summit of the Stop Rape in Conflict movement. For me, the event was marred by terrible noise pollution. Everyone, speech, music, film – all crammed together in one echoey hall.

I leave exhausted but wiser for the information that I received and cheered by the amount of young women there. Things will change; thank goodness.

Come back on Thursday 29 September 2016, when Mary presents her ideas to the Speaker’s Advisory Committee on Works of Art…