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Women’s stories inspire Derby College students to create new exhibition at Sudbury Hall

Women associated with the 17th century National Trust country house

Students at Derby College’s Joseph Wright Centre have created an exhibition at Sudbury Hall to celebrate the lives and achievements of women associated with the 17th century National Trust country house.

Art & Design, Games Development and Music students have created a number of different pieces from paintings and sculptures to audio and 3D animations which have been placed around the hall for visitors to explore.

The students were invited to work on the exhibition as part of the National Trust’s project to commemorate 100 years since the passing of the Representation of the People Act – from the women on the front line as suffragettes to celebrating the women who have influenced the Trust’s properties.

The students’ work interprets the lives and untold stories of nine women associated to the 17th century Sudbury Hall.

These include the lonely Queen Adelaide, who leased the hall for three years from 1840 after the death of her husband King William IV and the memories of Marion Ken who was a housemaid at the hall in the 1930s.

There are also stories about some of the Vernon family women who have called Sudbury home through the centuries.

Sudbury Hall Visitor Experience Manager Kirstie Filby explained: “We gave the students the research material and a free rein to create their pieces.

“Some have portrayed the women themselves and others have interpreted key parts of their stories and issues affecting their lives such as mental illness and empowerment of women through the ages.

“The exhibition pieces give visitors something that they wouldn’t expect and blend beautifully with the unique character of the hall. The basement has been re-configured to make space for some of the bolder and contemporary pieces.

“We have also produced information boards about the students’ thinking behind the creations as well as the women who have inspired this work and the response from the public has been extremely positive.

Derby College Art & Design Lecturer Phil Taylor added: “This has been fantastic work experience for the students to interpret the empowerment of women as contemporary artworks.

“To celebrate the achievements of women and raise awareness of equality in an Arts showcase for the National Trust has been an inspirational and fulfilling opportunity for all involved at Derby College”.

Among the students involved was Georgia Stevenson (18) from Breaston who has created a coat and cloak inspired by the Suffragette movement.

Georgia, who has accepted a place at UCA Rochester to study Fashion, said: “I have designed a modern day version of the coat that the Suffragettes worn and highlighted the key actions that they took on the cloak.”

The exhibition will be in place at Sudbury Hall throughout the summer. For more information please visit the website.

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