On Saturday 25th November, 2-4pm, at the Library of Birmingham, we will mark ‘Elimination of Violence against Women Day’. Women from across Birmingham and Solihull have created ‘Ophelia’s Cloak of Power’, to be revealed and form the centrepiece of a celebratory performance including dance, music, stories and artwork created by women during a series of workshops over the last year.
Listening to and hearing the voices of contemporary women, we have recorded their stories. Inspired by Archive collections including Birmingham’s Shakespeare Collection, we have worked creatively to represent these stories. This has culminated in a series of unique performances, sharings and exhibitions of which the 25th November marks the symbolic passing of our stories into our City Archives at the Library of Birmingham.
Hear Here has been a series of arts and wellbeing workshops for women and girls taking place across Birmingham and Solihull leading to our live performance. Working with Lead Artist Joanne Tremarco, participants have been introduced to textile and printing techniques to create a fabric patch that tells their story. Stitched together along with stories and artwork of hunderds of other women, we have created a cloak of power which will be processed through the Library of Birmingham on 25th November 2023.
We have worked creatively to represent women’s stories to a wider audience at the Library of Birmingham with People’s Heritage Co-operative and the University of Birmingham through Everything to Everybody project, working with Ladywood Children’s Centre, Oasis Hub Hobmoor, Saheli Trust, Gilgal Refuge for Women, Woodcraft Folk, The Gap, Deaf Explorer, South and City College and many more.
As part of this project, we explored the Shakespeare Memorial Collection at LoB, and how Shakespeare’s Ophelia,often misrepresented, underheard, ignored, manipulated, has been performed in Birmingham over the last two centuries. We explored how Ophelia and the stories of women have been represented in our Archives, and how we want to be represented and heard.
First marked in 1981 by the Women’s International Network Against Violence (WIN), in 1999 the United Nations General Assembly designated 25th November as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. Violence affects one in three women in their lifetime and we applaud those who help victims and ask you to join us in celebrating women and eliminating violence against them.
Our Lead Artist: Joanne Tremarco is an Interdisciplinary artist with 20 years’ experience of making thoughtful work with and for a range of communities, supporting people to make beautiful creations out of their lived experience. She works as a performer, director, writer, painter, sculptor, and installation artist. As a performer she has toured improvised plays internationally with the aim of shedding light, bringing laughter, and empowering women to feel that their voice matters.