This post is in response to Manchester Art Gallery and their choice to remove the painting Hylas and the Nymphs from display on Wednesday 31st January. Their decision, a contrast to the 100-year old posters recently found by Cambridge University Library, depicting the struggle of women who fought for our right to vote, has since been reversed. They have announced, due to the ensuing debate, that the painting will go back on display on Saturday 3rd of February.
Since the beginning of time women have struggled, fought, died to be heard, seen, respected and now they want to remove all traces of the struggle of thousands upon thousands of women throughout history? No. I say, no. I say hang the paintings, show what we have made for ourselves since the artist sat in front of that canvas and painted his ideal of women. Remind us what we fought against. Remind EVERYONE what we fought against. Proof. Our story of oppression should stand before everyone, forever. A testament of our strength. The 21st century woman stands shoulder-to-shoulder with our ancestors, for each leap of faith, each act of defiance, against suffering, against abuse, against violence; we have pushed and pushed, together, throughout history, the world over. In linen and corsets and under chiffon and leather. Paint us as Boudica, leading her army to battle. Paint us as Coretta Scott King, placard in hand, as Emily Davidson, chained to railings. Let these powerful females hang next to nymphs, and fallen women, and ladies of the night. Where breasts were once exposed, let armor shine, ribbons show and right hands sit. Where women cowered, on knees, on their backs, under a man. Paint us standing strong, head held high, chin tilted in defiance. Challenging. Resolute. Ready to continue the fight.
Hang us next to each other.
A silent army. An army that doesn't want to win but wants there to be no winner. No one in front, just parallel. Let it hang.