THE FACE OF SUFFRAGE : by Helen Marshall, The People's Picture


The Face of Suffrage was a large scale public art commission conceived and made by Helen Marshall as a mass participation project, celebrating and commemorating 100 years of the vote for women in England.

The artwork created was installed on the floor of the main concourse of Birmingham New Street, measuring 200 metre-square, it was a photography mosaic made up of almost 4000 images of women provided by people from across the West Midlands and beyond. When viewed from above, it showed a portrait of Hilda Burkitt, a leading face from the suffrage movement in the West Midlands. Evaline Hilda Burkitt was born in Wolverhampton in 1876 and died in 1955. She was the first suffragette to be forcibly fed a total of 292 times, whilst imprisoned, and had a job at the Birmingham WSPU (Women’s Social and Political Union) headquarters in Birmingham.  She was imprisoned for throwing a stone at Prime Minister Herbert Asquith’s train as it pulled out of Birmingham New Street, after he attended a male-only budget meeting.

The image is made up of a combination of archive pictures of women involved in the Suffragette movement in the early 1900s and of females today, submitted by the public.

In association with the artwork GRAIN curated an exhibition of historical portraits of Suffragettes at Birmingham Hippodrome Theatre.  A Talks Programme was also produced which included talks by the artist as well as by historians and archivists.

This project was supported by Network Rail, Cross Country Trains, GRAIN Photography Hub, Arts Council England, LSE Women’s Library, Birmingham City University, Birmingham Hippodrome and The National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Copyright 2016 GRAIN.