Herstory at Greenbelt 2016

Herstory at Greenbelt 2016

Alice Wroe blogs about bringing her Herstory project to Greenbelt this year …

Herstory uses feminist art to engage people with women’s history. It is a project that aims to disrupt the history we accept and the way we share it. I want to replace some of the loops in the chain we’ve been given by our education, where we hop between historical events joined together by a series of straight, white, men. The project aims to serve our young people differently, offering a bigger, fuller way of looking at our past and shaping our future. If you can’t see it how can you be it?

I have been at venues and schools across the country recreating Judy Chicago’s ‘Dinner Party’ where guests are invited to take their seat at this canonical feminist artwork. Whether they are Edith Garrud, Ching Shih or Claudette Colvin they are in good company, as we spend the sessions journeying through herstory and celebrating this history that for so long has gone unrecognised, creating and making as we go. Students have been transformed into incredible historical women, championing women’s history and doing feminism.

I am excited and nervous about Greenbelt. It is my most ambitious project yet. I will be working with a group of 20 young people* across two sessions over the weekend; we will unearth historical women, embody them, interpret them, craft them and then we will invite all of you at Greenbelt to join us and celebrate the work we’ve done together. Friends and family of those involved, or anyone wanting to immerse themselves in women’s history are welcome. You can come and witness Herstory in action. Working in this way allows us to ‘do’ feminism rather than talk about it

In preparation I have spent some time planning and thinking about the women who have made Greenbelt what it is today. I want to recognise them and reinsert them in the festival’s history. The women who blew you away on mainstage twenty years ago, the nun who consistently inspires, the activist that ignited in you a vision for a better world. But I need help finding them. I went on Wikipedia to rush through the highlights of the past, to look at the headliners who are diligently documented there. I was gutted, it didn’t match my experience of the festival – or maybe it did and I just wasn’t paying attention! We can do better than this. I think we have done better than this. It’s just not written down. So let me know the women who have made Greenbelt great. Tweet me @herstory_uk.

I am excited to meet the young people I will be working with and also to explain my methodology a bit in a Pecha Kucha at the festival. I want to encourage people of all genders to be involved in the sessions – you are all welcome. This is for all of us.

*To be part of Herstory at Greenbelt, make sure you turn up 15 minutes early for Alice’s first session to sign-up to be part of it over the festival. There are only 20 places available. You will need to commit to both preparation-exploration sessions and to the final performance session (on the Sunday and Monday).