the House of doors - exploring 100 years of women and the vote
Created by the artist Kristina Clackson Bonnington, launched in partnership with UCL Art Museum
The House of Doors is a public art project exploring how society has changed as a result of women getting the right to vote.
touring for three years, the house of doors is travelling to both the first and last countries in Europe to grant this right to women. it will conclude in 2018 with an exhibition to mark the centenary of the first women in the UK to get the vote.
The House of Doors at UCL Art Museum, London
A PRIVATE MEMBERS' CLUB:
An immersive installation, the House of Doors reworks public spaces into a private members' club. Much like MPs, Members of the House of Doors (MHDs) are invited to consider and propose new laws, and can scrutinise existing government policies by asking questions about current issues. The House of Doors’ primary focus is imagining - of futures, pasts and presents.
MHDs are invited to reflect on contemporary society and are asked to consider what changes might move us towards greater equality. Each proposal put forward by an MHD is documented in the House of Doors' core text The Book of Love & Legislation.
A Member of the House of Doors (MHD) adding their entry to The Book of Love & Legislation
THE CLUB SPACE:
The House of Doors' entrance is marked by a large, free-standing sculpture that references architectural details from three sites of significance to suffrage:
- University College London - which in 1878 became the first university in the UK to admit female students
- The Houses of Parliament - which in 1918, after a long battle led by the Suffragettes, granted women the right to vote
- White's Gentlemen's Club on St James' Street - one of the remaining institutions in the UK that continues to exclude all women
This sculpture extends to a members' space where MHDs can come together to scrutinise government policy and propose reforms.
For more information about this please see the video here.
On the eve of International Women's Day 2015, UCL's Quad was reworked into the House of Doors. In the member's area a series of talks, workshops and live events took place and the House of Doors' first MHDs were welcomed.
"UCL was thought to be the perfect site to launch the House of Doors due to its historical ethos of equality. Known as the 'godless college on Gower Street', UCL was the first secular university in the UK, and the first university to admit female students on equal terms to men. UCL's Slade School of Fine Art was also the first art college to admit women in the life room and has played a significant role in the inclusion of women in the arts."
Dr Martine Rouleau, UCL Art Museum
Friday 6 March, 1pm-8pm
- 1pm-3.30pm, House of Doors new members' workshop (UCL Quad)
- 4pm-5pm, Opening of the House of Doors (Portico)
- 5.30pm-7pm, Opening Talk: Just what is gender equality and does it even matter? Professor Graham Scambler, Emeritus Professor of Sociology UCL, accompanied by Sixth Form students from Sacred Heart Catholic School, who spoke about gender equality from the perspectives of young people growing up in the UK today
- 7pm-8pm, Drinks Reception
Saturday 7 March, 1pm-6pm
- 1pm-2pm, Guided Walk (UCL Quad), a mischief-making meander. Suffrage and social equality was explored on a route that took in significant buildings around UCL. Led by researchers and students from UCL and Central St Martins
- 2pm-3.30pm, House of Doors new members' workshop (UCL Quad)
- 2.30pm-3.30pm, Talk: A Dress is not a Yes: Representation of the body in Art and visual culture - threat power and punishment Dr Susannah Walker, UCL Art History Department
- 4pm-5pm, Closing Talk: Art and Social Change - How a bit of mischief and the House of Doors might pave the way towards greater social equality Dr Martine Rouleau, UCL Art Museum and Lead Artist, Kristina Clackson Bonnington
- 5pm-6pm, Live music, discussion and drinks (Portico, UCL Quad).
The two day event concluded with a musical reading from The Book of Love & Legislation, with music provided by Les Zoings and pupils from Argyle Primary School taking the role of the 'Speaker of the House of Doors', reading aloud a selection of contributions entered into The Book of Love & Legislation.
"It all started with a painting I came across in the Beaney House of Art and Knowledge in Canterbury. It's a life size painting of a little girl standing at the door, painted in 1910. The painting has such a presence and immediately struck me as being of huge social significance; in 1910 the little girl standing at that threshold was excluded from so many places, but changes were about to come. I want to explore what all these changes have actually amounted to. By working with hundreds of people, from primary school pupils to Parliamentarians, I am investigating what changed as a result of suffrage."
Kristina Clackson Bonnington
The House of Doors will tour for three years, concluding in 2018 with an exhibition to mark the centenary of the first women in the UK to get the right to vote. Details about the tour can be found here.