Contemporary artists celebrate the achievements of a feminist pioneer


Has your practice ever included responding to a historic house and its former inhabitants? The artist collective CommonAs has been doing just that at a National Trust property in Lincolnshire. They've researched the life of Emily Massingberd, women's rights campaigner and nineteenth-century heiress of Gunby Hall. A keen advocate of women's suffrage, she preferred to dress as a man and became known for her tireless work in support of temperance and the well being of women. Her many achievements included founding the Pioneer Club, one of the first and most influential female members’ clubs, and being one of the first women to run for public office.

CommonAs are creating a contemporary art installation from a series of artist-made objects that reflect Emily’s interests, passions and opinions. They hope that, by bringing these objects together, visitors will be encouraged to consider her unconventionality, energy and motivations. The art installation will incorporate references to the Pioneer Club, Emily’s capacity for subversion and her time at Gunby, and will be created from an intriguing mix of neon, mirror, photography and handcrafted seating. It will also include recipe ideas for temperance inspired mocktails created by Gunby volunteers. If you'd like to catch the exhibition, it'll be on in the Orchard Gallery at the Hall throughout August. 

Perhaps you might consider responding artistically to the life of one of the former residents of a well-known historic house in Birmingham? Or maybe someone linked with the School of Art itself? Just a thought...