Artists in Archives: for interest only




5 Dec 2017


International Anthony Burgess Foundation


Join Digital Women’s Archive North [DWAN] and Delia Derbyshire Day to explore the role of feminist arts practice in unlocking archives once considered “for interest only.”

Artists since the post-war period have embraced the “archival impulse”, challenging the way in which “historical knowledge and forms of remembrance are accumulated, stored and recovered’” (Hal Foster, 2004).

We ask: what can practitioners contribute in terms of new content, interpretation, methods of knowledge creation, and ways of working within archival narratives of preservation and access?

Watch, listen to, share and participate in artists’ presentations, displays, creative responses, performances and workshop activities, and view some of Delia Derbyshire’s archive from the John Rylands Library.

Light refreshments will be provided.

Contributors include:

** [DWAN]

** Caro C (artist &sound engineer)

** Mireille Fauchon (illustrator)

** Harry Cooper (Project Manager, Sound & Music/British Music Collection)

** Esther McManus (print-maker & publisher)

** Hannah Allan (artist & writer)

** Heather Roberts (archivist)

** Travelling Heritage Bureau of Displaced Women Artists

** Delia Derbyshire archive from John Rylands Library



This performance-arts-symposium event is part of Delia Derbyshire 80th anniversary electronic music heritage project supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.



Project Announcement: The Travelling Heritage Bureau of Displaced Women Artists #HLFsupported

Project Announcement:

The Travelling Heritage Bureau

of Displaced Women Artists

Digital Women’s Archive North CIC (DWAN) is delighted to announce that a National Lottery grant of £48,200 has been awarded by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for a 20 month project exploring creative archival practices for addressing the challenges of identifying, collecting and sharing the heritage of displaced women artists who are refugees or asylum seekers.

Made possible by money raised by National Lottery players, the Travelling Heritage Bureau of Displaced Women Artists is an exciting and innovative project undertaken through a series of workshops, public activities, a film, sound piece, archive installation and contributing to the development of collaborative art works for forthcoming textiles exhibition by Alice Kettle at the Whitworth Art Gallery in 2018-19.

The collective actions and practice of the Travelling Heritage Bureau will address both the need to ensure the participation of women artists in contributing to arts archives, and the additional complexities of displacement for undertaking arts archive development.

Working with displaced women artists located in Manchester, Greater Manchester and the North West, the project will also generate digital documentation and outputs for sharing the work further afield.

The overarching aim is to empower women artists who are displaced to share their cultural heritage and methods of self-archiving. Additionally, it aims to change attitudes and behaviours towards displaced peoples through methods of feminist practice. Finally, the project will generate new methods for archives, collections and heritage sites to engage with displaced practitioners.

Why this project is important:

This National Lottery funded project is significant to the area of arts, archives and cultural heritage, but also to wider issues of collecting and communicating the diversity of refugee and asylum narratives and experiences. It will address displaced women’s participation in cultural heritage, in-line with UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre position of prioritizing opportunities for women’s empowerment in the fields of heritage and creativity.

A collective of fifteen displaced women artists will be recruited to form the Travelling Heritage Bureau. The artists will participate in workshops in heritage spaces and collections including Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester Art Gallery, Archives+ and AIURRRC, Elizabeth Gaskell’s House, Portico Library and the RNCM to creatively develop models of arts archiving practice from their position as refugees and asylum seekers. The Travelling Heritage Bureau is a contributing partner in the upcoming major exhibition (which includes a public programme) creatively collaborating with refugees and their lived experiences and cultural heritage at the Whitworth Art Gallery, 2018-19 – Thread Bearing Witness led by artist Alice Kettle.

The project enables DWAN to continue developing and promoting methods of feminist archival and heritage practice, supporting the confidence, wellbeing and empowerment of women and girls, and addressing issues of social justice.

Press and Media Enquiries:

Editor’s Notes:

Digital Women’s Archive North CIC is an arts and heritage organisation supporting women and girls to identify, collect, disseminate and celebrate their cultural heritage through creative and digital interventions. We use feminist curatorial and archival practices to support women’s active citizenship and self-empowerment.

Our work has a specific interest in supporting the heritage and archival practices of women artists, and the development of arts archives.

Our core activities include:

1.) Co-creating our digital space that will function as an archive, educational resource and alternative media outlet, supporting the connectivity, campaigns and creative cultural resistance of feminist practitioners and organisations

2.) Collaborative and creative feminist archival and heritage projects

3.) Delivering educational public engagement events around heritage and feminist practice


About the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF)

Thanks to National Lottery players, we invest money to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about – from the archaeology under our feet to the historic parks and buildings we love, from precious memories and collections to rare wildlife.  Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and use #HLFsupported.

Alice Kettle is a contemporary textile / fibre artist based in the UK. She is currently Professor in Textile Arts at Manchester School of Art, Manchester Metropolitan University.

Her stitched works, many the size of huge figurative tapestries, exploit the textures and effects made possible through the harnessing of a mechanical process to intuitive and creative ends while in her large scale works she continues the tradition of monumental textiles. 

Her work is represented in various public collections such as the Crafts Council London, the Whitworth Art Gallery in Manchester, the Museo Internationale delle Arti Applicate Oggi, Turin, Italy. Commissions include the National Library of Australia, the Scottish High Court in Edinburgh, Gloucester and Winchester Cathedrals and the School of Music & Drama at Manchester University. She’s recently completed a major commission for Lloyds Register Global Technology Centre at Southampton University.

“Alice Kettle is a contemporary textile/fibre artist based in the UK. She has established a unique area of practice by her use of a craft medium, consistently and on an unparalleled scale. The scale of her work belies their component parts: individual tiny stitches, which combine to form great swathes of colour, painterly backgrounds incorporating rich hues and metallic sheen.” Sara Roberts






#SexistAds discussion #BBC


Yesterday Creative Director of DWAN, Dr Jenna Ashton, spoke to Chelsea Norris at BBC Radio Manchester about the recent ASA CAP report “Depictions, Perceptions and Harm: A report on gender stereotypes in advertising”.

Reflecting on the content and findings of the report, Dr Ashton discussed the damaging influence of stereotyping and gender representation in the mainstream media on young people’s wellbeing, sense of identity and aspirations. Dr Ashton also suggested we need to think intersectionally around gender, and also consider representations of class, race, disability, age and sexuality. Dr Ashton disagrees with an element of the report’s conclusion which misguidedly suggests that sexualisation and representations of the body (i.e. too fat/too thin) is a separate issue from gender stereotyping.    

The report is welcomed by DWAN for its contribution to the discussion around social responsibility of corporate advertising, but feels we need to go further than simply offer new legislation. We need a culture shift in wider education around gender, stereotypes and its harmful normalisation across many areas of visual and media culture. 

From 2:09:40

Upcoming *stuff*

So DWAN will be making an appearance at the following. More info to follow soon …

Women on the Verge: Transformations in Literature, Gender and Society, 16 June 2017, University of Manchester

Manchester International Festival: Imagined Homeland, 1 July, HOME Mcr

Women’s History in the Digital World, 6 – 7 July 2017, Maynooth University, Ireland

Edinburgh Festival (with the Institute for International Cultural Relations, Uni of Edinburgh), August 2017

Archives and Records Association, UK and Ireland, Annual Conference, 30 Aug – 1 Sept 2017, Hilton Hotel

Artist Archives, 5 Dec 2017, Anthony Burgess Centre, part of Delia Derbyshire Day Festival

  • Summer 1
    Summer1 ©DWAN

Arts #Archives: Catalysts for Change

The wonderful Heather Roberts (archivist extraordinaire) has written this great piece about our recent work together:

At the RNCM Archives, I’ve been poking at the idea of arts archives as arts resources. A lot of the collection at the College is either manuscript music, drawings, programmes or photographs. It’s a dream for outreach and engagement because so much of it created specifically to be engaged with. Music is for listening to, art […]

via Arts Archives as Catalysts for Change: DWAN collaborate — HerArchivist


Rebel Dykes, screening of the film in progress was shown at HOME, Manchester, 12 March 2017. This queer-punk documentary is in post-production, and HOME screened the work-in-progress cut which sold-out at BFI Flare in March 2016 and we’re very pleased that it sold out Home’s biggest cinema screen too! Created by a Manchester-based queer film crew, Rebel Dykes […]

via Rebel Dykes, screening of the film in progress shown at HOME, Manchester, 12 March 2017. Sell Out!! — Instigate Arts

Listen again on soundcloud ….

Whose Festival is it Anyway? Wonder Women 2017 Whose Festival is it Anyway? Was a conversation, discussion and debate held at Manchester Central Library, Manchester, 11 March 2017. As the 2017 Wonder Women festival drew to a close, Digital Women’s Archive North [DWAN] and Instigate Arts brought together 2017’s contributing artists, producers, curators and groups for a lively and provocative […]

via DWAN & Instigate Arts Curate ‘Wonder Women; Whose Festival Is It Anyway?’ Hear the full audio of the conversation here. — Instigate Arts

Wonder Women Festival 2017

Whose Festival is it Anyway? at Manchester Central Library, Manchester, 11 March 2017, free entry – 2pm

Sign up here:

As the 2017 festival draws to a close, Digital Women’s Archive North [DWAN] and Instigate Arts bring together this year’s contributing artists, producers, curators and groups for a lively and provocative panel discussion asking if feminist festivals are an act of disruptive activism in their own right, raising consciousness and introducing young activists to key moments in the history of their own movements and causes?

It will look forward to 2018 and set out a bold vision for how Wonder Women might grow to become a fitting Manchester tribute to the 100 year anniversary of the first votes for women. How might the city of suffragettes live up to the legacy of those original disruptive activists; capture public attention and support creative practitioners with a feminist ethos?

Panel Participants:

Sarah Perks (Artistic Director of HOME Mcr, Film Producer and Professor of Visual Art, Manchester Met University)

Rosanne Robertson (Artist and Co-Director of The Penthouse, Manchester)

Julie Ward (Labour and Co-operative Party Member of the European Parliament for the North West of England, Member of Parliament’s Culture & Education Committee, Member of the Regional Development Committee and the Committee on Gender Equality and Women’s Rights.)

Francine Hayfron (Cultural Park Keeper, Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester)

Dr Louise Platt (Senior Lecturer in Festival and Event Management, Manchester Met University)


Dr Jenna Ashton (Creative Director, [DWAN] Digital Women’s Archive North, Manchester)

Anne Louise Kershaw (Curator, Wonder Women Festival 2017, Co-Director, Instigate Arts, Manchester)

Come and have your say.

Starts 4pm