Manchester Art Gallery

Emily Williamson Statue Campaign

‘Murderous Millinery’, the RSPB and Emily Williamson

30 October to 14 November 2021

Manchester Art Gallery is delighted to be hosting a small display about pioneering Mancunian Emily Williamson, who founded the RSPB. Emily lived in Fletcher Moss Park, Didsbury, in the Croft which is now the café. The Emily Williamson Statue Campaign aims to commemorate Manchester’s eco pioneer with a life-size bronze in Fletcher Moss Park, guided by public vote. There are four potential designs by Clare Abbat, Billie Bond, Laury Dizengremel and Eve Shepherd and you can vote for your favourite. The voting ends at midnight on 12 November and the winner will be announced at Manchester Art Gallery on 13 November.

You can vote here

Pheasant feather hat  Satin hat adorned with bird wing

Murderous Millinery 

For half a century, from the 1870s to the 1920s, women on both sides of the Atlantic were gripped by a fashion craze for elaborately feathered hats. Not just feathers, but wings and whole birds; often several birds at a time. Species the world over were hunted systematically and to the brink of extinction, all for women’s millinery. Manchester Art Gallery has many of these feathered hats in its collection. The lucrative trade in feathers was seemingly unstoppable.

Until one Manchester woman dared to call it out.

Emily Williamson 

Emily Williamson, a solicitor’s wife from Didsbury, loved birds, hated cruelty and was appalled by the fashion for ‘murderous millinery’. Determined to halt the plumage trade, she invited her friends to tea at The Croft, Didsbury (today’s Fletcher Moss Park), and asked them to sign a pledge to Wear No Feathers. And so the RSPB was born, in 1889. All of its members were women. This was in contrast to the all-male British Ornithologists’ Union which was doing nothing to protect great crested grebes from becoming a fashion accessory.

Emily’s campaign snowballed. When her Society merged with Croydon’s Fur, Fin and Feather Folk in 1891, she became Vice President and continued to campaign for the RSPB, in Didsbury and then in Brook, Surrey. It triumphed with the Plumage Act of 1921, banning the import of exotic feathers. Countless bird species were saved from extinction, and the RSPB evolved into the powerful conservation charity it is today. Yet not one its founding members has been remembered by history.

Along with Emily, the two other founders of the RSPB, Etta Lemon and Eliza Phillips, will be also celebrated by large portrait drawings by Clare Abbat on display at the Gallery.

The Emily Williamson Festival

Alongside the display will be a festival on 12-13 November which explores Emily’s history and conservation legacy. Speakers include BBC Springwatch presenter Megan McCubbin and RSPB Chief Executive Beccy Speight and the festival culminates in the announcement of the winning sculpture.

MAG Unlocked: The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and Angels in the Gallery

The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood  

Meet the leading Pre-Raphaelites on this tour with  guide Joan and discover how they revolutionised British art in the 19th century. 

 

Angels in the Gallery  

Angels have been around for millennia and feature in many of the world’s religions, as well as being a presence to many within the secular world.  Guide, Ann Jackson, will introduce those present within Manchester Art Gallery and some who have visited us in the past. 

 

 


Using Zoom

We will be using the platform Zoom to bring people together.

You can access zoom through a laptop, tablet or smart phone. You don’t need to create an account to access the session.

Booking

To join this MAG Unlocked session please book here.

You will be emailed a link just before the start of the session.


Image: Portrait Of An Unknown Model by Amedeo Modigliani, 1918

 

MAG Unlocked: Old Friends

Only a small proportion of the gallery’s vast collection can be on display at any one time and beloved works must often return to the stores or be loaned out to other galleries for their own exhibitions.  Tour guide Julia Marwood explores some of her own favourite works which are not currently on display and hopes that they will bring back happy memories – or perhaps introduce you to them for the first time.

 


Using Zoom

We will be using the platform Zoom to bring people together.

You can access zoom through a laptop, tablet or smart phone. You don’t need to create an account to access the session.

Booking

To join this MAG Unlocked session please book here.

You will be emailed a link just before the start of the session.


Image: Portrait Of An Unknown Model by Amedeo Modigliani, 1918

 

MAG Unlocked: Teatime and Here Comes Summer

Tea Time

Tea Time has so many associations within British Culture; socialising with friends; the ceramics industry; and Britain’s colonial history to name a few. Explore representations of Tea Time with guide Debbie Leftwich through many interesting and varied objects from Manchester Art Gallery collection.

 

Here Comes Summer

Join Volunteer Guide, Margaret to discover the Gallery’s rich collection of artworks showing scenes and activities of the Summer season and the stories behind them.

 


Using Zoom

We will be using the platform Zoom to bring people together.

You can access zoom through a laptop, tablet or smart phone. You don’t need to create an account to access the session.

Booking

To join this MAG Unlocked session please book here.

You will be emailed a link just before the start of the session.


Image: Portrait Of An Unknown Model by Amedeo Modigliani, 1918

 

MAG Unlocked : Art and the Human Condition

“Art is where we go with our sadness….it is like a memorial to our best possibilities.” With this sensitive insight, philosopher Alain de Botton reminds us that the works we encounter in gallery spaces can illuminate a great deal about ourselves.

Join volunteer guide John Ward in an exploration of the many ways in which Manchester Art Gallery’s unique collection can help us to make sense of life’s mundanities, disappointments, trials and joys.

 

 


Using Zoom

We will be using the platform Zoom to bring people together.

You can access zoom through a laptop, tablet or smart phone. You don’t need to create an account to access the session.

Booking

To join this MAG Unlocked session please book here.

You will be emailed a link just before the start of the session.


Image: Portrait Of An Unknown Model by Amedeo Modigliani, 1918

 

MAG Unlocked : The Male Figure in European Art

Explore ideas and influences in a range of art works from the Manchester Art Gallery collection which feature the male figure. It will look at how attitudes and ideas have changed over time. It will explore how depictions of the male figure have been influenced by European art and artists.

 


Using Zoom

We will be using the platform Zoom to bring people together.

You can access zoom through a laptop, tablet or smart phone. You don’t need to create an account to access the session.

Booking

To join this MAG Unlocked session please book here.

You will be emailed a link just before the start of the session.


Image for website: Life Drawing of a Man Nude with a Cane;  Adolphe Valette 1910-1912 (Circa)

MAG Unlocked Greek Heroes and Heroines

Join tour guide, Pauline as we discover the Greek heroes and heroines represented in the Gallery and the stories of their adventures and exploits.

 


Using Zoom

We will be using the platform Zoom to bring people together.

You can access zoom through a laptop, tablet or smart phone. You don’t need to create an account to access the session.

Booking

To join this MAG Unlocked session please book here.

You will be emailed a link just before the start of the session.


 

Image: Perseus Arming by Sir Alfred Gilbert

MAG Unlocked: Work and Leisure

A session in two parts exploring work and life at the seaside.

 

Working Lives  

Join tour guide, Isabelle as we discover how artists portray the world of work in both the present and the past, as shown in the Gallery’s collection of artworks.

 

Life at the Seaside 

With many of us spending our holidays at the British seaside this Summer, join tour guide Nina to look back to paintings of ‘Life at the Seaside’ for the Victorians. Why did seaside resorts become so popular even with Queen Victoria?  We will ‘take a walk along the beach’ at Ramsgate, Cornwall, Rhyl, Lyme Regis and Norfolk to look at who went to the seaside, what they wore, what they did and compare with life at the seaside in more contemporary times.’

 


Using Zoom

We will be using the platform Zoom to bring people together.

You can access zoom through a laptop, tablet or smart phone. You don’t need to create an account to access the session.

Booking

To join this MAG Unlocked session please book here.

You will be emailed a link just before the start of the session.


Image: Caernarfon Castle by Moonlight – Joseph Wright of Derby – 1780 – 85

MAG Unlocked: Science, Nature and the Human Mind

“Imagination is more important than knowledge” said Einstein. One of the great things about art is that it can awaken our sense of wonder about the universe and indeed, our place within it. Join volunteer guide, John Ward on a voyage of discovery through striking landscapes, intimate portraits and beguiling abstract works, as we reflect upon humanity’s encounter with the unknown.

 


Using Zoom

We will be using the platform Zoom to bring people together.

You can access zoom through a laptop, tablet or smart phone. You don’t need to create an account to access the session.

Booking

To join this MAG Unlocked session please book here.

You will be emailed a link just before the start of the session.


Image: Caernarfon Castle by Moonlight – Joseph Wright of Derby – 1780 – 85

MAG Unlocked: Surprises and secrets

As we celebrate the joys of Spring on this Easter weekend, discover secrets, surprises and symbols in the Gallery’s artworks as revealed by our team of Volunteer guides. “Watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you, because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places”

Roald Dahl: The Missing Golden Ticket and Other Splendiferous Secrets p.8, Penguin (2013)

 


Using Zoom

We will be using the platform Zoom to bring people together.

You can access zoom through a laptop, tablet or smart phone. You don’t need to create an account to access the session.

Booking

To join this MAG Unlocked session please book here.

You will be emailed a link just before the start of the session.


Image: Henrik Sorgh : Kitchen Interior – 1957