Tuesday, 10 March 2009

in praise of contemporary bluestockings...

it seems that my recent homage to forgotten females struck a chord with many friends and acquaintances, some of whom have subsequently suggested their own icons, including louise bourgeoise, charlotte perriand, vivienne westwood, marie du plessis, edie bouvier beale, bette davis, virginia woolf, marlene dietrich, coco chanel, elizabeth 1, angela carter, angela davis, martha gelthorn, alice b toklas. thank you lisa, anne, hilary and mysty mary!

meanwhile over at the bluestocking, that veritable headquarters of female erudition and scholarliness, international womens day has also led to a little list making and contemplation of heroines who deserve our admiration. this is a splendid resource for all budding spinsters and learned ladies with links to journals, archives, worldwide sisterly bloggings and is in short a jolly good read - do visit them for a total immersion into the history and future of the bluestocking and her postmodern offspring, the geekgirl and feminista. there’s even a name generator to play with, though they rather gave up on me, naming me a somewhat disappointing euphemia p baptista!?

of course bluestockings don’t only exist in the past nor are they merely consigned to the pages of history; women continue to inspire in the contemporary and everyday world invariably under our very noses. it’s just that now as then these thoroughly modern heroines tend to remain unidentified, their achievements and stories overwhelmed by the sheer clamour of the wags, it-girls and reality stars vying for our attention. so to complete this celebratory theme of female endeavour, adventure, notoriety and achievement, here's my humble offering of a few of today’s femaletastic endeavours, all within hailing distance!

where better to start than right here in brunswick? i have sung the praises of my small coterie of bluestockings elsewhere in these pages but i can surely be forgiven for reiterating them here…

the gorgeous and rather terrifying lonelady - just signed to warp records, her first album is being recorded at a secret location in the northern wastelands right now….listen to nerve up here, for a flavour of what’s to come.

artist, urbanist and cube (centre for the urban and built environment on portland st, manchester) open winner andrea booker should be revealing more of her haunting urban rescue work during her residency at cube this summer. i've long been a fan of this brunswick belle - read and see more about her work here.

apartment in the heart of brunswick will be sorely missed when it closes its doors for good at the end of its current show, not only for its support of hundreds of international artists and innovative curatorial projects such as artranspennine08, but also for the dazzling presence of artist, curator and co-founder hilary jack. some consolation however might be found at her blog , where we can keep up to date with her future projects, or at axis where she regularly contributes articles on pertinent issues in the contemporary artworld.

of course, no review of brunswick or indeed manchester would be complete without a mention of the legend and megastar that is the ‘acid tongued glamazon’ coco laverne. her astute cultural commentary, film reviews and all round fabulousness can be found on her blogsite, ms coco la verne, including todays sharply written assessment of women, domestic violence and spinsterhood.

widening the scope outwards slightly from my own enchanted corner of the city, i have been most privileged since my emergence into the 21st century to be befriended by an extraordinary array of artists, activists, loiterers, drifters and dreamers - magnificent women writing, exploring and creating their own city, situationists and flaneuses all.

morag rose and jane samuels. where to start? these two urban loiterers, flaneuses and adventurers really are the epitome of iconic. i’ve enthused about them both many times before but really one cant praise them enough – for more about the lrm in manchester and the abandoned buildings project visit this inspiring blogsite. better still join in; you'd be most welcome!

an intriguing message popped into my inbox on facebook recently and got me hooked immediately, drawing on the history of cycling clubs, female emancipation, but bringing it right up to date. here's what it said. ride like a girl;

Wednesday 8th April (and monthly on 2nd Wednesday of the month). Meet at 6:30pm outside the Pankhurst Centre. We shall ride, mostly off road routes for about an hour. (the ride will be lead by a qualified cycling instructor who can give advice on assertive/ confident cycling during the ride). After the ride we shall go to The Deaf Institute where we can celebrate the first of the new monthly women's rides with female DJ's playing ace music all night!!!!Boys welcome to the afterparty…

look out for me on mabel, my trusty penny farthing!

if green issues, allotments or community activities are your thing, then look no further than latterday land army girls, odette o’reilly and louise allen, project co-ordinators of GROWTH, a “grow your own scheme” that will meet every two weeks in whalley range to share skills and enable people to grow their own vegetables in an urban plot. find out more at the lovely shrieking violet blogsite, a mine of mancunian activity and information.

ArtYarn is a collaborative fibre arts project coordinated by visual artists Rachael Elwell and Sarah Hardacre, who use traditional knitting and crochet techniques in contemporary visual arts projects. its part activism, part socially engaged art - crafty, subversive and fabulous. catch them at the kings arms in salford on mondays to get involved, find out all about yarn bombing or just knit a scarf!

this mini review is clearly only the tip of the iceberg, dear reader. it doesnt pretend to be definitive or exhaustive. as you know, part of my self appointed mission in this brave new world is to uncover practices of everyday life, celebrate stories of quotidien adventure and investigate tactics of resistance to the often stifling narrative of the corporate cityscape, surviving and even thriving in the cracks and gaps of the mainstream. all we have to do is look...and join in with some mischief of our own, however small!

this little homage is proof indeed, dear reader, that you really don’t have to travel very far to find the modern day bluestocking out and about in all her glory. vive la postmodern femme!!!

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