Shirley Cameron/ Monica Ross/ Evelyn Silver, Monument to Working Women, 1985
Shirley Cameron/ Monica Ross/ Evelyn Silver
Monument to Working Women

Shirley Cameron’s sculptural work from the 1960s developed into a hybrid practice in the 1970s that included performance and a collaboration with Roland Miller. In the 1980s, Cameron introduced political and feminist ideas into her practice. Monica Ross (*1950 †2013, UK) contributed to the Women’s Postal Art Event (1975-77) at the ICA London, Künstlerinnen International 1877-1977 (1977) in Berlin, the Sister Seven Anti-nuclear Project (1981-84) and exhibitions such as Typisch Frau at Galerie Magers, Bonn (1981). From December 2008 until her passing in 2013, Ross completed Anniversary – An Act of Memory, a performance series of solo and collective multi-lingual recitations from memory of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Evelyn Silver created entertaining performances in galleries, on streets, in peace camps and in festivals in the UK in the 1980s. She made the personal political by blending feminist and anti-nuclear issues with her lesbian and Jewish identity. She collaborated with Cameron for over two decades. Texts by the artists

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In Monument to Working Women, the artists Shirley Cameron, Monica Ross and Evelyn Silver came together to intervene in a public site where History – in the monument of John Bright, an influential industrialist – misrepresents the living memories of workers and their experience of the relations between labour and capital. The thousands of women, who were employed in textile mills such as John Bright’s, were once the world’s largest unionised female workforce, renowned for their social spirit and labour activism. Dressed like these working women, the artists proceeded from the town’s art gallery, also built by John Bright, to his monument, which overlooks it. In their enactment of a temporary Monument to Working Women, they symbolically super-imposed the women workers’ memories of John Bright over the official legend, which idealises him as a social reformer and as a representative for the philanthropy of capitalism.

Photographs: Patsy Mullan 1985 / image restoration Bernard.G. Mills 2005
Performance: Triple Transformations Residency, Rochdale Art Gallery, UK

Courtesy Shirley Cameron, Monica Ross, Evelyn Silver


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his/herstory, labour, public space