Dreadnought SW - Waymarker project for “Oxygen”, a new play by Natalie McGrath to celebrate the centenary of the The Great 1913 Suffrage Pilgrimage.
Our journey has begun. That is, the creation of the giant map showing the south west route taken by the women on the The Great 1913 Suffrage Pilgrimage from Lands End to Hyde Park. “Oxygen” will take a similar touring route 100 years to the day. The route is defined by the fingerknitted knots stitched onto the map. Each knot representing a step of the estimated 100,000 taken on the pilgrimage.
The map itself is scrim, and scrim is the traditional wiping fabric of the printmaker. As a printmaker I know that its open weave is for a consistent wiping of an intaglio plate. The scrim is important for this map because its open weave means that each venue or location is integral within the scenography, and its starchy stiffness ensures the map remains ‘map-like’.
More important than all of this symbolism are the women who are finger knitting the route. Artist Nicci Wonnacott and I are are leading waymarker projects with marginalised women affected by domestic abuse. We began in Exeter, with SAFE (Stop Abuse for Everyone) and we will be in Cornwall with WRASAC (Women’s Rape & Sexual Abuse Centre) and to Bath SEEDs (Survivors Empowering and Education Domestic Abuse Services). Integral to the story of “Oxygen” is raising questions about the Great Pilgrimage’s contemporary relevance. The Great Pilgrimage of 1913 was conceived as a mass mobilisation to urge Prime Minister Asquith to hear the Suffragists concerns, the reasons why women should have the vote and a voice. It worked and the rally in Hyde Park 26th July 1913 resulted in a deputation to Prime Minister Asquith.
The Waymarker projects are an opportunity to question whether women’s lives have changed for the better or worse since 1913, and to raise awareness of how powerful womens’ voices and action can be.