Local community arts organisation, Aunty Social are due to launch their latest exhibition, We’re Sew Done which highlights the harassment and threats of violence that women face every day, at Blackpool Central Library on Tuesday 7 September 2021.
The project, coordinated by Aunty Social directors Catherine Mugonyi and Joe Booth, came about as a response to the disappearance and murder of Sarah Everard in March 2021 and the subsequent increased awareness of street harassment. Following the rise of the Reclaim These Streets movement, Antonia Charlesworth wrote an opinion for online magazine Blackpool Social Club that addressed the issue of street harassment at a local level. The article asked women and girls in the town to share their stories of street harassment, which would then be added to an interactive map.
Aunty Social’s textile group Knittaz With Attitude found that these stories really resonated with them and were inspired to create artworks to highlight the issue further.
Catherine Mugonyi said:
“This project really means something to the group as these are our experiences and the experiences of our friends and families, so we wanted to do something that helps people to understand the impact of everyday street harassment. It was great to discover that plenty of people outside of the group felt strongly about this and wanted to get involved too.”
The project started during lockdown and started to attract amateur and professional artists. The artists made pieces at home receiving doorstep deliveries of craft supplies, materials and equipment, and making use of Facebook and Zoom to coordinate plans, catch up with each other and share skills. Over 20 participants took part in this socially engaged project, from people who have contributed to the map to 11-year old’s creating pieces for their craftivism Girl Guides badge.
Joe Booth said
“As the artworks inspired by the reported incidents started to come in, we were really impressed by the level of insight and the quality of work. We felt that it was really important to make sure that these pieces were seen by as many people as possible. Blackpool Central Library kindly offered us a space for the entirety of September and October, and from there we started to plan the exhibition.”
The exhibition features a wide range of textile art including cross stitch, crochet, appliqué and embroidery. It also showcases photographs of the artworks taken at the incident locations by Blackpool-based photographer Claire Griffiths. Visitors can also pre-order a hardback book containing photographs, stories and interviews with selected artists.
The work can also be seen outside of the exhibition. Each of the 48 locations from the incident map will be assigned a tag or plaque with a QR code. The code will take viewers to a web page containing the artwork that correlates to that location.
The exhibition launch takes place at 6pm on Tuesday 7 September at Blackpool Central Library. To reserve a place, visit www.sew-done.co.uk.