By Dieneke Ferguson
20th April 2018
Sally Lees has been commissioned by The Houses of Parliament to create new ‘New Dawn’ suffrage jewellery for the 2018 Vote 100 Exhibition. This exhibition marks 100 years since Parliament passed a law which allowed some women, and all men, to vote for the first time: the 1918 Representation of the People Act.
In preparation of this celebration Mary Branson was commissioned to design a Light Art Installation “ New Dawn” which commemorates women’s suffrage and which was created in 2016 and launched in June 2016 as part of her residency and celebrates 150 years since the first petition for women to vote was taken to parliament. It measures over six metres high.
In that same year 2016 Sally Lees was commissioned by The Houses of Parliament to create a collection of jewellery to accompany Mary Branson’s ‘New Dawn’ Artwork.
The commission aimed to create a collection of jewellery that echoed the shapes, imagery and colours of the artwork. Mary had used the colours of all of the suffrage organisations in the artwork so the jewellery was designed to show off combinations of the colours including red, yellow and blue in addition to the most universally recognised purple, green and white of the millitant Women’s Political and Social Union.
Sally decided to use the Parliamentary scrolls as her starting point, because of the same shape and form which had inspired ‘New Dawn’. Parliamentary scrolls are rolled Acts of Parliament held in the Original Act Room of the Parliamentary Archives.
New Dawn’s glass discs or ‘scrolls’ also represent the Acts which have given rights to women after centuries of inequality. In addition the unique hand-blown glass scrolls that make up its dawning sun reflect the many individuals who were involved in the movement and the special contribution they made to modern democracy.
The essence of the jewellery ranges needed to allow visitors to be able to take away a reminder of the art installation with them. The pieces needed to be timeless so that visitors could continue to wear them for years to come.
Subsequently Sally was also commissioned to create ‘New Dawn’ suffragette jewellery for the 2018 Vote 100 Exhibition. The pieces Sally created included pins and stud earrings that consisted of a single colour only.
Sally’s 2016 collection is being introduced for the Vote 100 exhibition with additional pieces and colourways to celebrate 100 years since the Representation of the People’s Act which enabled some women over the age of 30 to vote.
Sally chose the colours purple green and white for the stylish reversible drop earrings made from hand printed and dyed aluminium and silver.
Each strip of aluminium was hand printed with a resist of the drawings then dip dyed in blue and yellow dye baths to make green or in a blue then pink dye bath to make purple.
A disk of each colour was then cut out then riveted together with a silver tube rivets. The components were made separately with the earring hooks made from sterling silver.
They can e worn with either the green side or the purple side facing forward or with a purple and a green one facing forward!
A selection of the jewellery will be available in the museum shop at Cartwright Hall Art Gallery’s Vote 100 Exhibition in Bradford from April until September 2018. The original ‘New Dawn’ brooch made in 2016 will also be featured in the curated Vote 100 exhibition there too.
The Vote 100 exhibition can be seen at Westminster Hall and will run from 27 June and 6 October 2018. Further information https://www.parliament.uk/get-involved/vote-100/voice-and-vote/