Terminal Jive

Creative projects by Abigail Ward

Category: Producing

Spirited at The Portico Library

Votes for Women – WSPU – rosette. Photo: Lee Baxter

Spirited is a new exhibition at The Portico that tells the stories of some of the young women and girls who fought for the vote 100 years ago, centring on Manchester as the birthplace of the suffrage movement. It brings to life their incredible acts of courage, creativity and cunning in order to inspire today’s young people into taking their own first steps into social action.

It’s curated by Catherine Riley of Spirit of 2012, and runs until November 24th 2018.

I am currently working on a digital version of the physical display, which will go live on November 12.

Spirited is funded by Spirit of 2012, established by the Big Lottery Fund with a £47m endowment from the National Lottery. One of Spirit’s goals for 2018 is to empower, inspire and engage young women and girls – it is funding a range of projects that provide opportunities for making change through social activism.

Spirited features items from the collections of the BBC archives, the BFI, Bishopsgate Institute, British Library, Museum of London and the Women’s Library at LSE, which together offer an exciting new perspective on the suffrage story in a positive, youth-focused celebration of gender equality.

Section 28 March 1988: Audio Project

Protesters at the Anti-Section 28 Rally in Albert Square, 1988 © Manchester Libraries, Museums and Archives

On February 20 1988, 20,000 people came together in Manchester to protest against Section 28 – a much-reviled anti-gay law brought in under Margaret Thatcher that stated that a local authority “shall not intentionally promote homosexuality or publish material with the intention of promoting homosexuality” or “promote the teaching in any maintained school of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship”.

For my latest project, funded by Superbia, I am creating a sound collage-cum-audio documentary piece comprising people’s spoken word memories of the anti-Section 28 march and gig, interspersed with some archival news reports, crowd noise,  and music.

The idea is that people who attended the march will send me their memories via smartphones, rather than me interviewing in the traditional sense. As with many of my heritage projects, it’s a crowd-sourcing approach.

The piece will:

1. Be released as a podcast via Manchester Digital Music Archive.

2. Be uploaded to my Queer Noise online exhibition.

3. Be unveiled at a special listening event during the Superbia weekend hosted by Manchester Pride.

My aim is to weave together lots of of diverse voices and mini hidden histories through a series of short audio clips.

Here’s how to get involved:

1. Have a look at the questions I have posed here. You can answer as many or as few as you wish. Or you can just send me any memory that feels special to you.

2. Record your responses using your smartphone’s voice memo or video facility. Please remember to answer the question using a full sentence.

3. Send your memory to me by text or email and I’ll add it to the piece.


If you are not a smartphone user, or you feel you’d like to speak to me in person, just get in touch and we’ll see what we can sort out.

I am very keen to collect photos and footage too. If there is enough visual material, this will be presented at the listening event also.

Please do tell any friends who may be interested. Feel free to share far and wide!

I am keen to create something truly atmospheric and inspiring.

My email address is: info@mdmarchive.co.uk.  I can send you my phone number over email.

Protesters at the Anti-Section 28 Rally in Albert Square, 1988 © Kath McDermott

Protesters at the Anti-Section 28 Rally in Albert Square, 1988 © Kath McDermott

NB: Footage from the Section 28 march in Manchester was featured in the recent Boiler Room documentary Fleshback about queer clubbing in Manchester.

Hayling Island – stories at sea level

Hayling Island banner

Refugees, tourists, circus acts, smugglers, a destitute Russian princess and escapees from the industrial mainland: Hayling Island’s many sea-level lives exposed through a digital story map and a series of spoken word events

  • Acclaimed artists will collaborate with a literary geographer to explore the hidden histories of Hayling Island’s working class community using short stories, spoken word, audio soundscapes, visual art and an evolving online map of the island.
  • Work in progress versions of short stories and audio will be shared at three literary events across October 2017 held in Hayling, Manchester and Durham.
  • The short story collection will explore themes including climate change, human migration, economic shift, disability, and LGBT+ issues

A true island completely surrounded by sea, Hayling is off the south coast of England in Hampshire, near Portsmouth. It is home to a working class community and is rich in overlooked histories, from the arcades and smugglers’ tunnels to the nearby military base. It is a place of resilience and contrasts, and as the water rises, there are no climate change deniers to be found.

Using remembered histories of local people and the geography of the island itself as inspiration, four Manchester-based artists, led by writer and spoken word artist Michelle Green will create an interactive digital map housing a short story collection and accompanying audio.

The stories and soundscapes will be shared as work-in-progress at the following events:

Durham Book Festival event Sat 7th October 2017
Book tickets here, priced £6/£4

Hayling Island Library event Sat 21st October 2017
Book free tickets here.

International Anthony Burgess Centre event Thursday 26th October 2017
Book free tickets here.

All events are supported by Arts Council England and New Writing North.

Michelle Green is an acclaimed writer and spoken word artist born on Hayling, now based in Manchester. She was two when her parents left the island, and so her ‘memories’ take the form of many stories from her extended family, centred on the arcades, bingos, cafes and clubs they ran in the 70s along one of the tourist strips, just as the arrival of package holidays was beginning to take its toll on the local economy. Hayling has always been a tenacious place, and it is from this that interesting stories grow. Michelle is particularly interested in the lives that are pushed to the margins – working class, disabled, disenfranchised – and those living at the water’s edge as the sea rises.

Ahead of the events, lead artist Michelle Green says: “This map has been growing inside me for years. My family moved around a lot, and so I carry a map of other people’s stories and landscapes as a way of connecting to the places that have shaped our lives. As mainstream discussions of class and economics become a binary caricature with talk of ‘strivers and shirkers’, good and bad, I want to push back with the complexities and resilience that I know lives within every ignored or abandoned working class community. I want to push back against the idea that art and culture is inherently middle class. People who live on a low lying island know just how near the edge is, and I want to invite the audience to walk along those edges and listen, a short story at the tip of each finger.”

The Hayling Island digital story map will be designed by Maya Chowdhry, an interactive artist, writer and poet. It will comprise collage of historical documents, hand-drawn elements and audio hotspots where audiences can listen to or read the stories. The map will also link to local tidal reports and will change according to the real-time tide on the island.

The audio elements of the map, overseen by facilitator in sound and ‘sonic enchantress’ Caro C, will take a sensitive radio-quality approach, adding depth to the world of each story and providing access to audiences who struggle with text. Caro will also create a unique piece of music that responds to the sonic environment of the island.

Creative non-fiction co-author and literary geographies consultant Dr David Cooper is a senior lecturer in the Department of English at Manchester Metropolitan University. He will co-author pieces of creative non-fiction with Michelle Green, as a geographic exploration of the island that takes subjective experience of the place as the starting point.

For further information, images and interviews please contact:

Abigail Ward – Production Manager
Haying Island – stories at sea level


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