As part of the preparation for our 20 years celebrations, our Chinese Bronzes and Women’s Library collections will be closed from Monday 26 February, reopening with the rest of our new season on Thursday 21 March.

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Folk Is A Feminist Issue Manifesta

Mon 1 May 2023, 1.00pm2.00pm

Folk Is A Feminist Issue Manifesta

In this talk, Lucy Wright, an artist based in Leeds, shares some of her reflections on ten years of fieldwork on contemporary folk arts and introduce her ‘Folk is a Feminist Issue’ manifesto, which calls for a more inclusive understanding of folk that celebrates and empowers everybody.

Following a stint as the lead singer in BBC Folk Award-nominated act, Pilgrims’ Way, she turned her attention to exploring the ‘hidden’ folk arts of the UK and beyond. Identifying that many of the most overlooked traditions were practiced by women and girls, she has made it her mission to advocate for lesser-known customs and to re-imagine the existing folk canon to better reflect the gender and racial diversity of contemporary Britain. She believes that folk—as the things we make, do and think for ourselves—matters now more than ever.

Lucy has a PhD from Manchester School of Art, is Visiting Research Fellow in Folklore at University of Hertfordshire and her work has been supported by Meadow Arts, Daiwa Foundation, and UNESCO, to name just a few!

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This event accompanies the exhibition Making Mischief: Folk Costume in Britain. It is generously supported by funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund. Please read about the contemporary arts public program here.

The English folk arts has a diversity problem. It is now fairly well-known that the folklore collectors of the Victorian era were biased in their efforts, resulting in a canon of performances and customs that marginalise or exclude many people. However, what is less often discussed is the risk of rehearsing the same inequities in the present day if ‘folk’ continues to be viewed as something of the past, concerned with the preservation of old cultural materials, as opposed to a creative, living process, still as relevant—and vital—today as it was one hundred years ago.

As an artist and researcher, Lucy has spent more than a decade searching for the folk arts of the 21st century, many of which are practiced by women and other marginalised people. From rose queens, carnival troupes and kazoo marching bands in the North of England to ‘harestailers’ on the island of Jersey, and morris dancers in Japan, my travels have shown me that contemporary folk arts are alive and thriving—if only we know where to look!

Member – £15
Non-Member – £25
Student £17.50
Tickets include entry to our exhibitions, collections and grounds

Tickets are non-refundable and non-transferable

This event accompanies the exhibition Making Mischief: Folk Costume in Britain. It is generously supported by funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.