Harrogate Feminists

A Celebration of Women: personal reflections
March 14, 2011, 11:51 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , ,

Silver and glass bracelet - one of my own contributions to the event

I struggled into Harrogate town centre, rather heavily laden with exhibits and party things (balloons, fruit juices, stereo), saying to myself “There are so many ways this could go so very very wrong…”. I kept running through more and more potential disaster scenarios, until Amalia unexpectedly rescued me at the traffic-lights. I was immensely relieved to see her: it marked the point when the event started to turn from a thing that only existed in our heads into an Actual Event with a life of its own. Although I still kept bring surprised when things in fact didn’t go wrong, but went right instead.

First of all, when we arrived at the Wesley Chapel, I was surprised that the venue was already open, even though David the Premises Manager was nowhere to be seen (he did however turn up a few minutes later, while I was looking for him at the Lions Club’s coffee morning which happened to going on elsewhere in the building).

Next, I was surprised that almost everyone who said they were going to come did come, and moreover turned up promptly and enthusiastically with a LOT of exhibits. We really did have painting, drawing, computer design, textile art, knitting, embroidery, beading, ceramics, sugarcraft, poetry, quilting, and jewellery, as well as stands both from local charity Acorn and the Harrogate and Knaresborough branch of Amnesty International. To add to the surprises there was even one woman who turned up unexpectedly carrying a large poster with a poem and drawing. By the time everyone had squeezed themselves and their exhibits into the Lower Hall, there was only just enough space for everyone. Soon there was a cheerful buzz going on in the Hall as people found old friends and made new ones. Laura set up our own stand near the door and talked to lots and lots of people.

The next surprise was the most fantastic one of all. Val M was saying “Sarah, Sarah, you must meet these people” and lo and behold, it was people from the Harrogate and District Women’s Liberation group – est. 1975!  They are an amazing, inspirational bunch of women who still meet up now, and we’re hoping that we can organise some joint meetings with them later in the year.

After that I have to confess my memories are rather a blur of handing out flyers in town (Harrogate is such a polite town: a courteous “no thank you” was the harshest response I got), talking to lots of people in a probably rather confused manner about feminism and creativity, Laura and Rachel organising the exhibitors for one last group photo, and of finally, at five o’clock, feeling surprised that I’d forgotten to have lunch (most unusual for me).

Thanks to everyone who made the event a success: special thanks to Joanna for her design skills. And Deborah for lending the bunting. And Bess and Rachel for the photos. And everyone who blew up balloons (including Louisa, I’m almost sure). And all our exhibitors for being so talented and creative!

My souvenir was Val Smith’s booklet of poems, which she put together especially for the day.


Val Smith’s poetry booklet


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