This project came about as a response to the events of March 2021.
The disappearance and murder of Sarah Everard prompted a number of conversations between volunteers and members of the different Aunty Social groups.
It became incredibly clear that street harassment was still very much an issue.
Blackpool Social Club contributor Antonia Charlesworth decided to write an opinion piece about street harassment locally. This included a callout for women living on the Fylde coast to contribute their experiences of street harassment to a map. We created a survey and people left a variety of horrific stories relating to incidents of street harassment that they had experienced. The responses to the survey were plotted on a Google map.
Our textile group Knittaz With Attitude decided that they wanted to do something to highlight these issues. There was such a variety and diversity of stories affecting women of all ages, and we felt it was really important that these should be marked. This is an issue that means a lot to the group. These are our experiences and the experiences of our friends and families, and we want to do something that helps people to understand the impact of everyday street harassment.
The group decided to make textile works of art that could be strategically placed in public spaces to highlight the harassment and threats of violence that women face every day. These artworks would be placed in the location of an incident that had been reported through the Blackpool Social Club form.
Due to lockdown restrictions we couldn’t meet as a group, so we began to make pieces at home. We used Facebook and Zoom to communicate and catch up with each other and to share skills. We also had doorstep deliveries of craft supplies, materials and equipment.
As the pieces started to come in, we were really impressed by the level of insight and the quality of work. We felt that it was really important to make sure that these pieces were seen by as many people as possible. Blackpool Central Library offered us an exhibition space for the entirety of September 2021, and we decided that we would like to create an exhibition in that location.
Due to the nature of this work, we understood that place is incredibly important. We’re going to use technology to retain that link between the artworks and those locations of the harassment incidents. Each of the 48 locations will be assigned a tag or plaque. These will contain a QR code. Once scanned, this code will take a viewer to an online exhibition website where they can see the work that correlates to the location. Following the introduction of the Covid-19 track and trace application, many people are now very used to scanning QR codes too. We’re excited to see how this tech changes the way that people engage with our work.
We have over 20 participants in this socially engaged project, from people who have contributed to the map to 12 year olds creating pieces for their craftivism Girl Guides badge. It’s been a privilege to share the stories and experiences of women on the Fylde Coast and we hope you can explore them (via the locations and the exhibition) too.