March 10 to September 23 2018
This spring The Higgins Bedford celebrates the achievements of women of Bedfordshire with a new exhibition. It is 100 years since the Representation of the People Act allowed some women to vote for the first time. The exhibition will reflect on women in Bedfordshire’s achievements in those 100 years. From aviators to opera singers, designers to engineers, and rugby players to Suffragettes Bedfordshire has a long history of great women.
The exhibition will highlight the achievements of 60 women who have achieved in the fields of Suffrage & Politics, Education, Sport, Community Power, STEM, Wartime, Business, and the Arts. Women have been nominated, researched, shortlisted and selected by an exhibition development panel made up of volunteers from the local community.
One of the strongest themes amongst the women nominated is their contribution to the community. Today there are inspirational Bedfordshire women working to help refugees resettle here, making Bedford more accessible for the Deaf community, setting up women’s refuges and running hundreds of miles for charity. These women follow in the footsteps of women in Bedfordshire’s history like the suffragettes fighting for women’s votes and the doctors who founded infant welfare centres.
Amongst the represented groups is Access Bedford. Founded by Alison Crook in 2013, the group has worked with the Deaf community in Bedford to bring people together, increase access to services, increase representation and awareness and worked with organisations and service providers to increase accessibility. Alison said ‘I am thrilled to be part of a celebration of women in Bedford. Bedford is an extraordinary place for passionate and committed community groups and I’m very proud to be amongst them.’
Also featured is one of the town’s most famous artists, Dora Carrington, who moved to Bedford with her family in 1903. Educated at Bedford High School, Dora excelled at drawing and when she was 17 her teachers recommended that she apply to the Slade School of Art where she was to become part of what her teacher Henry Tonks described as the schools last ‘crisis of Brilliance’ with Paul Nash, Stanley Spencer and Mark Gertler. Although Carrington was not fond of the town, she wrote of one of her rare trips home 'where the village boys had quite forgotten me, and taken unto them new lasses. They gaze askance at my shorn locks … sad it is to relate but I was not appreciated'. The Higgins Bedford has been collecting works by Carrington for a number of years and now has one of the finest collections in the world.