Centenary City – Ambassador Decisions!

By Tessa Chynoweth, Curator, Pankhurst Centre

Ambassadors have been making some decisions about the Centenary City archive and exhibition today! The exhibition will open on the 21st November 2018 and we’ve been thinking hard about what should be included in it… Several themes have emerged from the material that’s been submitted throughout the year. Here’s some of the pictures of the day, kindly taken by Sabrina Fuller, if you’d like to see…

The theme of  ‘threads’ was particularly strong, and allowed us to weave our way from Manchester’s past, in cotton production and radical protest, to today’s responses to the centenary, which have overwhelmingly taken the form of embroidered works, contemporary banners, and radical dress-making.

Stories of ‘Super Women’ have also appeared in our archive and on the Manchester; Centenary City digital map, and suggest another theme, of inspirational Manchester women, who, like the suffragists and suffragettes, are dedicated champions for the rights of women in contemporary contexts.
Another theme that made itself heard very clearly in the the archive is that of the female voice; the vote may have been a way that some women were represented in parliament, but the centenary has reminded us that there is still much to be done to ensure female voices are heard…



Ambassador Photography Workshop – Part 2

By Natalie Whitehurst, Centenary City Ambassador 

A second photography training session was held on Sunday 12th August, where more ambassadors were able to try their hand at documentary photography. As I am a photographer myself, I was asked to attend both sessions to lend a hand with the photography. Although, as I don’t have much previous experience with documentary photography I was looking forward to developing my own skills as well as helping others!

The wonderful Laura Deane was back to deliver this session again, and this time we were able to go into one of the museum rooms to practice taking portrait shots of each other- with some ambassadors modelling the awesome costumes too! We practiced photographing each other and getting comfortable with both using our camera and interacting with people whilst photographing them.

After this, we were able to venture outside and try our hand at photographing the general public on the street.

Laura made it very clear from the beginning that it does not matter at all what equipment we were using- be it a DSLR or a phone camera- the photos don’t have to be ‘technically’ perfect in order to be deemed good. –  “The best camera is the one you have with you”.  The important thing is that we are out there talking to people, interacting with them, and capturing something raw and candid. Sometimes an image will be a bit blurry or out of focus…but it will be filled with emotion and will tell a brilliant story. And that makes a great photo.

As I had both my DSLR and phone to hand, I switched between each one and found that using a phone camera actually worked in my advantage in some situations as it was less intrusive and I think that put people at ease. Which is what we want when we’re photographing any centenary events; we want people to feel comfortable and not threatened, as they will then be more willing to participate and share their stories.

It can be very daunting approaching people you don’t know, but the key thing I learned is that if you push yourself it will pay off. Towards the end of the session we were challenged by Laura to take a photo of someone from less than a meter away which was a great opportunity to really push our confidence that bit further!

Here’s the photos I took:

Photography for Feminists! Centenary City Ambassador Training

By Venice Fielding, Centenary City Ambassador

Ambassadors gathered for the Centenary City photography workshop with photographer and teacher Laura Deane on a sweltering day in July, fans blasting in what was once the Pankhurst family’s front room. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from the session. What experience would the other participants have? Would it be quite technical? Or more practical and hands-on?

As it turned out, we were all coming from different levels of experience – some were very knowledgeable and came equipped with SLR cameras. Others, myself included, knew little and brought just an iPhone.

To begin, we explored some of Laura’s work and her progression as a photographer, as well as the work of other notable Mancunian photographers.

The evolution of Laura’s photos really struck me. She talked about starting out capturing landscapes and human interaction with nature, often without any people in the shot. From there, she moved slowly towards creating portraits, and she discussed just how much confidence she had to build in herself to be able to take those pictures.

This progression resonated with me very strongly. Whilst travelling abroad, I’ve been drawn to pictures of jungles cut through by bridges, a house nestled awkwardly in the nook of a craggy cliff, a single lane winding through rice paddies.

And yet, interesting faces started to catch my eye. I still remember, in a small town in Southern Vietnam, spotting a barber, just hanging out on his motorbike by the roadside, waiting for customers to drop by. The backdrop a tall, flaking white stucco wall with a small mirror screwed to it, a creaky-looking chair by his side. One leg up on the handlebars, his face distant and serene.

I recall this scene vividly, but it now exists only in my mind. As much as I wish I’d taken his photograph, I didn’t want to intrude by just snapping away. I lacked the confidence to walk right up to him and ask.

So, how is my reverie relevant to the workshop at hand?

Well, after looking at and discussing photography in the classroom, we went out to try some ourselves. We started off taking portraits of each other – a friendly setting, but images of almost perfect strangers, nonetheless.

Once we were comfortable getting a camera in other people’s faces from the workshop, we moved out into the general public to try our skills out in a slightly less nurturing environment.

It was a little daunting to start out, to say the least, but we didn’t meet anybody who was negative, or who refused to be photographed.

I started off taking pictures of inanimate objects:

Moving quickly to foregrounding those objects while covertly capturing the people wandering by in the background:

It was a bigger step up to actually asking people if I could take their picture, but it was beyond worth it. While some people asked, “why?” (which I felt they might be less inclined towards if you look the part more, as opposed to approaching them with an iPhone), they were also pretty friendly about it.

And the confidence boost given to me by the workshop allowed me to get my two favourite shots of the day!


What better way could there be to preserve the incredible work of feminists and women’s rights activists in this city, than to capture them in their natural element? If we want to leave a legacy for future generations of feminists, we have to be brave enough to go out and document it.

Thank you Venice! We want to know what Ambassadors think of the project and of any events you attend at the Pankhurst, or elsewhere.  Please submit posts to curatorial@pankhursttrust.org.uk.

We’re still looking for Ambassadors for the project. For more information, click here or contact curatorial@pankhursttrust.org

There’s a second chance to attend Laura Deane’s training on the 12th August. The training is free, but you need to book.





Ambassador Training #2 HerArchivist

We had a really useful training session today on archival practice and decision-making delivered by HerArchivist Heather Roberts for the Centenary City Ambassadors. Even in this heat, the session was lighthearted and fun, and really made us think about how we will go about choosing which bits make it into our Centenary City archive! Here’s some photos from the day, if you’d like to see… Continue reading “Ambassador Training #2 HerArchivist”

Want to be an Ambassador for the Manchester; Centenary City project?

We are looking for Ambassadors for the Centenary City project who will help us collect photographs, film, objects, questionnaires, vox pops and resources from Manchester’s Vote100 events throughout the year; select which material features in our archive, and help to curate an exhibition which will be on at the Pankhurst Centre from November. Dates for your diaries are below here.

Continue reading “Want to be an Ambassador for the Manchester; Centenary City project?”

#Vote100 events listing

Are you involved with an event in Manchester that relates to the centenary of (some) women being given the right to vote? We’ve started an events listing of all of Manchester’s events. Do you have an event that you’d like to be listed on this page? Get in touch with us at curatorial@pankhursttrust.org.