Museum celebrates creativity and culture of women

Music travellers were ordered to 'encourage music' and this image of some of them is included in the The Women Made - Her Voice exhibition at the Baliffgate Museum in Alnwick.
Music travellers were ordered to 'encourage music' and this image of some of them is included in the The Women Made - Her Voice exhibition at the Baliffgate Museum in Alnwick.

A new exhibition is celebrating the cultural and creative role of women.

The Bailiffgate Museum in Alnwick is currently showcasing Woman Made – Her Voice as part of the Woman Made Project by Dry Water Arts in Amble.

The Women Made - Her Voice exhibition at the Baliffgate Museum in Alnwick shares the work of Helen Anderson (pictured).

The Women Made - Her Voice exhibition at the Baliffgate Museum in Alnwick shares the work of Helen Anderson (pictured).

The exhibition will fill the attraction with voices, images and untold stories.

Woman Made is funded by The National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund.

It shares the work of Helen Anderson and the Music Travellers, mainly female cultural pioneers who, during the Second World War, were tasked with uplifting the spirits of people via cultural activities.

The strategic use of arts in this way was as political as it was cultural, enabling women like Helen to have a great deal of autonomy and freedom.

The Women Made - Her Voice exhibition at the Baliffgate Museum in Alnwick.

The Women Made - Her Voice exhibition at the Baliffgate Museum in Alnwick.

Helen Anderson’s brief was simple – do what you like to encourage music among the civilian population. Keep a diary and report monthly.

The Woman Made project simultaneously celebrates the work of Helen Anderson and the women of Northumberland in their shared cultural and creative heritage, both established and new traditions that are emerging from the changing demographic of the area.

At a time when much is being made of the Northern Powerhouse, it celebrates women and their contribution to heritage.

And it is also a time to consider the nature of power in relationships and to listen to more diverse voices.

The Women Made - Her Voice exhibition at the Baliffgate Museum in Alnwick.

The Women Made - Her Voice exhibition at the Baliffgate Museum in Alnwick.

Her Voice Installation captures and shares the particularities of women’s relationship to the music that has accompanied them through their lives, speaking of particular times, places and people.

Workshops for the installation enabled women to consider, contextualise and share their heritage via the music they have loved.

In doing so key personal, social and cultural moments were highlighted, ranging from the political to the comical, such as memories of music associated with marching to support the Civil Rights movement, or the musical association of a good ‘snogging’ session.

The collated musical memories are a witness to women’s lives and, importantly, let them speak of their cultural inheritance in their own way.

The many heritage tracks were carefully compiled in companionship with other women.

Food was shared, stories were told and dances were danced.

Frances Anderson, artist and co-founder of Dry Water Arts, said: “This project has a particular interest for me as in 1941 my great aunt, Helen Frances Anderson was employed by the Council for the Encouragement of Music and the Arts as a music traveller in the North East.

“The music travellers were mostly women and were involved in spreading art and music to various regions of Britain to raise civilian morale during World War II.

“My aunt retained a deep affection for the North East and she has left some wonderful accounts of touring around the North East in her Austin 10 with, amongst others, Kathleen Ferrier.

“She was committed to the sharing and enjoying of the arts within the community and understood the importance of bringing people together.”

One workshop participant said: “I had no idea Kathleen Ferrier had toured around Northumberland or that 500 people attended a concert in Amble. It’s amazing.”

Jane Mann, volunteer at Bailiffgate, said: “We are excited to be able to stage the first exhibition of Woman Made and celebrate the often hidden work and lives of women in their communities.”

The exhibition can be seen at the museum until Sunday, March 31. For more information visit www.bailiffgatemuseum.co.uk