Manchester Art Gallery

Sylvia Pankhurst: Working Women

Studies of working women from the collection of the artist’s granddaughter.

Manchester Art Gallery
Friday 19 January 2018–Sunday 29 April 2018


In the centenary year for Women’s Suffrage in Britain – when women over 30 got the right to vote for the first time, we are showing a selection of paintings and pastels by Sylvia Pankhurst (1882-1960). The daughter of Emmeline Pankhurst, the leader of the Women’s Social and Political Union, Sylvia was a prominent Suffragette, and later an anti-fascist campaigner, as well as being an artist. She trained at Manchester School of Art, winning the prize for best female student in 1901, going on to win a scholarship to the Royal College of Art, London.

This display shows studies of working women from the collection of the artist’s granddaughter. Pankhurst travelled round England and Scotland in 1907, recording the lives of women she met in the pottery, shoe-making, fishing and spinning industries, among others. She worked quickly, trying to convey the truth of what she saw, without prettiness or pathos. At this time in her life, Pankhurst was deciding on her own path – was she to devote herself to art or to campaigning for votes for women? While she managed both for some years, by 1912 her decision was made. This exhibition reveals that a true artist was lost when the Suffragettes gained a champion.

This exhibition is part of The Edwardians display.

The Pankhurst Centre

Working Class Movement Library events