There is an eerie feel about entering the Pankhurst Centre. It is not a grand building which has been built for the purpose of holding great works of art or important historical artefacts, but a simple house, once the home of Suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst.
Today it serves as a museum and is currently showing the exhibition, Bags of Attitude, based on a project led by the artist Charlotte Newson. Along with women from the Greater Manchester area, Newson invited the general public to, ‘break a taboo’, and search through women’s handbags.
Around 40 have been designed and created by women aged 19 to 80. The bags contain various items involved in their everyday lives that demonstrate the strain that the spending cuts implemented by the government have had. The exhibition creates a very strange atmosphere, between the celebration of women with the creation of the handbags and a sense of apprehension for the future.
Many included shopping bills from the past few years, highlighting the increase in the cost of living along with headphones which enable the visitor to listen to the voices of the women involved, and the stress they have experienced.
It seems fitting that the exhibition which concerns the trials modern day life holds for women should take place in the Pankhurst Centre. Bags of Attitude offers an alternative to the statistics and opinion polls dished out on the news channels and papers, with a very personal touch, and real voices to be heard.
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