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Wessex Women Workshop – February

Objects On Tour
From November 2019 to Spring 2020 the Wessex Museums Partnership, will be working together to share their collections between the partner museums – The Salisbury Museum, Wiltshire Museum (Devizes), Poole Museum and Dorset County Museum, under the theme Wessex Women.

Each object on display will reflect an aspect of women’s work and role in society in the Wessex area and is part of an attempt to bring the histories of women to the fore of our work at the museums.

At Wiltshire Museum from mid-January to early-April will be the Downton Lace Pillow, from Salisbury Museum. Wessex women played a large part in local trade, particularly in the Downton Lace Industry. A woman named Mrs Robinson moved to Wiltshire in the 1890’s and became an enthusiast for lace-making. Along with her associate Mrs Plumptre, she was concerned that the number of those able to make lace was dwindling.

They began collecting information and equipment to preserve lacemaking skills. On display you can see a lace pillow, hand whittled bobbins and patterns known as ‘prickings’ held in place with pins. The women quickly started to run classes locally for other women and children, passing on the skill of lace making. In 1908, their efforts were even mentioned in an article in ‘Needlework Monthly’.

The following year, Mrs Robinson was asked to take over the local lace industry altogether. The women were motivated to preserve old skills and to provide opportunities for money to be earned by women and children in the Downton area.

Pots found by Maud Cunnington (on display in Wiltshire Museum from late-October to early-January) will be on display during this period in Dorchester.

Cost: FREE, but pre-booking is essential (see below)

Before the workshop – We ask you to think in advance about work in your life and to choose an object that represents your work life to bring with you (papers, letters, and photographs as well as physical objects). We are interested in whatever work means to you and could include e.g. employment, unpaid care, parenthood, a creative pursuit. We understand and hope that this will be very different for everyone.

Please take care to choose an object you are happy to talk about in a group. We will eventually make a video recording that will be used in a temporary display.

Part 1 – You will learn more about our Wessex Women display and explore ideas around working life as a woman and what work means, has meant or might mean to you in the future. We will work with Frances Owen, a writing practitioner, who will use writing exercises to get you thinking and talking about our theme.

Part 2 – we will share our objects and what they mean to us with each other, sharing our stories and thoughts about our work and why it has been important to us. We will work together to plan a time to record these stories in the New Year. We may film some of these on the day.
Who can take part?

We are working with women only for this workshop, under the ‘Wessex Women’ theme of our Objects on Tour project. The working life of women is less documented than that of men through history and this project is seeking to draw the lives of women to the forefront of our work.

Any woman aged 18 or over can take part. If you are interested in this project please consider if there are friends or family member who might want to take part too.

Your Objects – Our Collections
We are currently delivering a range of work that uses objects that are important to members of our community as a lens through which to better understand the relevance of the museum and its collections. We have already had some wonderful, surprising and important conversations with a range of local people using this approach and we support participants to share stories, that might otherwise go unheard, in a way they confident and happy with.

If you are interested in taking part in this free workshop and share your work story email our Community Curator

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