In the first three weeks of opening, we had over 5,000 visitors to the Brighton First Women show and over 2000 people crossed the Museum and Art Gallery’s threshold on March 8 for International Women’s day.
A glorious and inspiring array of events from the Firsts accompanied this show stop, including a talk by Professor Monique Simmonds, Alison de Burgh’s stage fighting workshop, a jam-packed green magic show from Megan Swann, and a packed-to-the-rafters talk given by conductor, Odaline de la Martinez. Adventurer Sally Kettle’s talk is yet to come and can be booked here (https://brightonmuseums.org.uk/discover/events/event/become-an-adventurer-storytelling-with-first-woman-sally-kettle/)
My thanks to all of them – and also to the Firsts who turned up to show their support including Dany Cotton, Jill Pay, Lieutenant Commander Catherine Ker and Jil Matheson.
I also had the pleasure of being interviewed by Royal Pavilion curator, Dr Alexandra Loske whose three, sold out standing room only talks (including an extra show put on by popular demand)! very interestingly contrasted the First Women Portraits with historical paintings by women artists. In this series of deeply engaging and intriguing lectures, she opening up a whole new, unique facet of these images that I have gazed at hundreds of times over the last decade.
Press coverage has been generous too: including a live broadcast on Sky News, Meridian TV, Radio Reverb, BBC Sussex and tons of local press, plus a first for me: a feature in the world’s longest running women’s magazine, The People’s Friend. What a privilege.
Brightonians are a fabulous and eclectic bunch. There is an overwhelming feeling of open-heartedness, support and engagement from them all. The locals are super proactive, both on and off social media – some people have visited the show three times already!
One international visitor, Kelly from Canada stumbled upon the exhibition and expressed her feelings beautifully, saying she felt a mixture of ‘goosebumps, tears and pride at being a woman,’ authentically moved by the sight of womanhood being expressed without limits.
Brighton has left me feeling fulfilled and excited by the future possibilities of taking First Women to the next level. The momentum is definitely gathering and here in Brighton, where I began my personal Feminist Journey forty years ago, there’s a wonderful sense of completion as well as aspiration.