2 November - 9 February 2019
This autumn, the remarkable photographs of suffragette Norah Smyth will be returning to the East End after one hundred years. East End Suffragettes: the photographs of Norah Smyth opens at Four Corners Gallery on 2nd November. Smyth's photographs, never exhibited in the UK, reveal the little-known story of the radical, ‘breakaway’ East London suffragettes.
Smyth was a central member of Sylvia Pankhurst’s East London Federation of Suffragettes, which broke from the main suffragette movement and fought for working women’s rights throughout the First World War. Faced by the increasing war poverty in East London, they set up cost price restaurants, babies’ milk clinics, nurseries and a cooperative toy factory, run largely by and for local women. Alongside the vote they called for profound social changes: equal pay, a living wage and better housing.
A talented artist and organiser, Smyth used her photographic skills to provide images for the East London Federation of Suffragette’s newspaper, The Woman’s Dreadnought, promotional flyers, postcards and catalogues, focusing in particular on local women and children living in poverty. These images provide an intimate record of Sylvia Pankhurst and the ELFS’ activities during 1914-18, an extraordinary moment in women’s social history.
East End Suffragettes: the photographs of Norah Smyth will include over 100 original photographs, generously loaned by the International Institute of Social History in Amsterdam, alongside other unseen archival material. A programme of accompanying talks and walks will explore the history and local area where Sylvia Pankhurst and Norah Smyth lived and worked. The exhibition and talks are all free of charge.
This exhibition is part of The Women's Hall project, celebrating the little-known history of the East London Federation of Suffragettes 1914-18, and the centenary of British women first winning the right to vote.
Developed by Four Corners, Tower Hamlets Local History Library & Archives, East End Women’s Museum and Alternative Arts through Women’s History Month in East London, this project runs from March to December 2018. Read the full press release here.