‘Worth It’ focuses on a collective textile work created by a diverse group of women in a series of workshops exploring and expressing their experiences of being a woman on Tyneside today, using the theme of ‘Body Image and Identity’. The exhibition is presented as part of the Festival of Women, produced by the Women of Tyneside project. Women of Tyneside has collaborated with local embroidery artist Melanie Kyles to deliver a series of workshops for female participants beginning in the costume archives of the Discovery Museum in Newcastle, followed by practical sessions in The Fashion Lab at Ampersand Inventions in Commercial Union House, Newcastle.

With positive emotions associated with favourite outfits and the power of dress, women visitors are invited to participate in the exhibition by noting the stories behind their ‘Worth It’ outfits onto postcards. This growing collection of postcards will be displayed within the exhibition, joining the women whose voices and creative input are part of the installation.

Women of Tyneside is a two-year community project, funded by Esmée Fairbairn Collections Fund, at Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums (TWAM) and aiming to work with local women to identify and explore contemporary social issues relating to women and gender equality.

Begun in October 2017 and due to end in July 2019, the purpose of the project has been to explore the collections across TWAM’s museums and galleries to highlight and discuss important issues for women and girls today, 100 years after women first began to gain the right to vote. The project has sought to challenge gender inequality and empower women to create change.

Diverse groups of women and girls from across Tyneside have been invited to seek out objects that mean something to them; by recording their personal interpretations, new meanings have been given to museum collections.

The project has also helped to create TWAM’s first Women’s Collection, composed of items not only already within the museum collections, but also of new donations, given by women and which tell stories about their lives and experiences on Tyneside, thus addressing gaps that may exist in the object collections. To find out more information about the full range of events in the Festival of Women, held across the region from March to June 2019, visit: www.womenoftyneside.org

Melanie Kyles was born in 1990 in Newcastle upon Tyne and lives in Gateshead. She takes what are usually regarded as gender-specific materials, such as fabrics and crystal, to subvert notions of economy and practicality traditionally associated with the ‘decorative’ arts. Kyles has co-curated two exhibitions at Vane, ‘WO/’ (2018) and ‘Exposing Form’ (2017). Both exhibitions celebrated International Women’s Day and showcased work on the themes of the feminine experience, identity and expectations through the perspective of female-identifying artists and their work.

The Late Shows 2019: Saturday 18 May 7-11pm

For the evening of The Late Shows 2019 on Saturday 18 May, visitors to the exhibition are also encouraged to come along in their ‘Worth It’ outfits, because, after all, they are worth it!