Sister Suffragette: Rachel Maclean feature film among highlights marking womens' right to vote centenary
- Rowena McIntosh
- 31 January 2018
Rowena McIntosh takes a look at some of the events marking one hundred years since the first women in the United Kingdom were given the right to vote
February 2018 marks the centenary of the Representation of the People Act 1918, where some women were granted the right to vote in the United Kingdom. Just some women, mind you – you still had to be over 30 and meet certain stipulations. While it wasn't equal yet (men only had to be 21) it was a massive step forward and allowed 8.4 million women the opportunity to vote. The act allowing women to be elected to Parliament was passed the following year.
Across Scotland, events are taking place to commemorate the anniversary. BBC Scotland and 14–18 NOW, the UK's official arts programme for the First World War centenary, have commissioned Scottish artist Rachel Maclean to create a new feature film to mark the milestone. Set in the brutalist St Peter's Seminary in Cardross, Make Me Up is part horror, part comedy and is inspired by suffragette protest, including the 1914 attack by Mary Richardson on Velazquez painting, 'The Rokeby Venus' (she slashed it with a meat cleaver). The film depicts a dystopia where a group of women are trapped in a reality TV-style competition, where compliance and attractiveness are key, and voting is not a liberation but a harsh judgement the contestants must face. Make Me Up is screened throughout the UK and then broadcast by the BBC in 2018.
Elsewhere, Nicola Wright and Lea Taylor present a piece of storytelling specifically written to mark the centenary, mixing historical facts with prose in The Purple, White & Green: The Story of the Scottish Suffragettes (Scottish Storytelling Centre, Edinburgh, Tue 6 Feb). Glasgow Women's Library are planning events throughout the year, including Caroline Phillips: Scottish suffragette and journalist (Sat 10 Mar), a talk which provides a unique insight into the suffrage campaign through the correspondence of Phillips, leader of the Aberdeen suffragettes from 1907–1909. And as part of Aye Write! cartoonist Kate Charlesworth and Nicola Streeten, author of The Inking Woman, discuss history, cartooning, feminism and the celebration of female artists in Deeds not Words: 100 Years of Voting, Thinking, Drawing Women (Mitchell Library, Glasgow, 25 Mar).