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Women In Print

The launch evening

This week Manchester experienced a rare heat wave which timed itself perfectly with the launch of the much anticipated Women In Print exhibition, curated by independent designer and illustrator Jane Bowyer.

For a Monday evening the turn out was fantastic. There was a great mixture of people who came and engaged in an evening celebrating the role women have played in Manchester’s past and present. I spoke to a lot of different people on the night, many of which were from very different backgrounds. Some were there for their love of design and others were drawn to the event for their passion for history and activism.

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Sunny Lowry

I was lucky enough to have been asked to be one of 16 local designers, print-makers and illustrators to contribute to the exhibition. We were all briefed to design a piece to celebrate the life and achievements of an iconic female figure from Manchester or who’s made a significant contribution to the city.

I was given Sunny Lowry, a long distance swimmer who in 1933 at the age of 22 became the fourth British woman to swim the Channel. She dedicated her life to teaching swimming and swam well into her 90’s. From 2000 to 2007, she was president of the Channel Swimming Association and in 2006 was rewarded with an MBE. My favourite fact about Sunny’s preparation for the channel is that she used to eat 40 eggs a week!

My print is inspired by the great changes of the early 19th century where liberal reforms opened more opportunities for women than ever before. In 1928, just four years before Sunny’s historic achievement, the vote for women over the age of 21 was passed. Lowry had a reputation for strong-mindedness, liberated from long skirts, she and others started to wear figure hugging sleeveless tank suits for swimming. For this she was berated as being a “harlot” for baring her knees. Her two-piece bathing swimsuit is now on display at the Dover Museum “Swimming The Channel” exhibition.

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Womanchester Statue Project

Last year the public voted for Emmeline Pankhurst to become the first woman to have her own statue in Manchester for more than 100 years, thanks to the Womanchester Statue Project. This is a big step in the right direction, towards publically acknowledging the impact Women have had on our local and national history. Unfortunately there are plenty more women who have been left out of the textbooks and their stories and names have been forgotten.

Monthly Gift Manchester

It was great to see the Monthly Gift Manchester campaign at the exhibition. They have teamed up with Mustard Tree & Booth Centre where they collect donations of female sanitary products for the homeless & those otherwise in need. You can find out more about this fantastic project here.

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Where can I see the exhibition?

If you haven’t been to the exhibition yet then head down to Rudy’s Neapolitan Pizza in Ancoats. It runs from Mon 18th July to Tue 30 August.

You can also catch Jane talking about the project at Inprint Liverpool on Sunday 24th July.

Photos by Steve Longbottom