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THE PANKHURST CENTRE

Posted: 11th January 2012

http://www.thepankhurstcentre.org.uk/

10th September 2011

I visited the Pankhurst Centre on a very cultural lunch break from work. It was on a Heritage Open Day and I just couldn't resist going in while on the quick dash back from the Whitworth.

The first room was interesting but quite conventional - general information boards and leaflets. There was also a lovely large image of "Women Like You" by Charlotte Newson (http://www.charlottenewson.com/women-like-you/) that had been exhibited at Manchester Art Gallery in 2010. The next room had a film playing about the Suffragette movement, but didn't really have time for that.

Then there was the last room. The palour had been recreated where the first meetings had taken place. As soon as I walked in, there was something powerful and somehow serene about it. I asked and there wasn't anything original or of any great importance in there, but there was something magical about that space. It was pretty, with more than average window features and lighting. But for me, I think it was banality of it - an 'ordinary' domestic space where 'ordinary' women felt they had the ability and confidence to change the world.

Perhaps if they hadn't, other women somewhere else would have and society's history would be different, but there was the essence of that drive and belief in that room. An exciting, vibrant sense of potential and change - anything is possible.

At that time Manchester was a real cultural, academic and socialist hub and must have been an exciting place with the theatres, libraries, concert halls and the then Manchester Athenaeum for talks and discussion. It must have been an exciting time where experimental ideas from the norm could have been explored.

I'm always scared of revisiting places like this, just in case that energy is no longer there. But if I have the courage to feel or see if I can feel that again, I would love to create a mindful pattern for Emmeline Pankhurst et al. and the Suffragette movement.

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