To celebrate International Women’s Day on Sunday 8 March, Sunderland Culture has revisited their popular Rebel Women of Sunderland project by unveiling a further four pioneering women from Sunderland.

The new stories and artworks will go on show from Saturday 7 March, alongside the original 10, at Pop Recs Ltd, where they will be accompanied by a day of International Women’s Day-themed arts activism activities from 11am – 4pm.

The new Rebel Women of Sunderland announced are Florence Collard: Shipbuilder, Ellen Bell: Sunderland’s first female Councillor, Nadine Shah: Musician and Aly Dixon: Marathon runner.

Selected to represent the diversity and achievements of women in Sunderland, the Rebel Women of Sunderland project puts the lives of all 14 women in the spotlight through striking portraits and stories of how they made their mark in history.

Sunderland creatives, illustrator Kathryn Robertson, a recent graduate of University of Sunderland, and writer Jessica Andrews, who recently won the Portico Prize for her debut novel, Saltwater, were commissioned to produce portraits and tell the stories of the women.

Alongside the exhibition, there will be a special Rebel Women of Sunderland: Art Activism event on Saturday 7 March at Pop Recs Ltd, featuring a day of free activities from local female-led organisations Stitch and Bitch Sunderland and The Art Room Sunderland.

On Sunday 10 March, Sunderland Culture will also be partnering with Hope Street Exchange to offer a special Rebel Women Afternoon Tea, which will give people the chance to find out more about the Rebel Women project, celebrate the achievements of women from Sunderland and to hear from real-life Rebel Women, Aly Dixon, about what it takes to be a rebel women.

Rebel Women of Sunderland was inspired by the popular children’s book, Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls, which has shone a light on the achievements of women around the world. The project was originally commissioned for Heritage Open Day in 2019, in partnership with Open Heritage and Sunderland Heritage Action Zone.

Nominations for the Rebel Women were crowdsourced through social media, with over 100 nominations of inspirational women of the city. The women were selected from the past and present to represent the diversity of the achievements of the women of Sunderland.

The original ten Rebel Women of Sunderland include Dr Marion Philips, the first female MP in Sunderland, Margaret Dryburgh, teacher and missionary, Ida and Lousie Cook, activists who smuggled Jews out of Nazi Germany, Elizabeth Donnison, founder of the Donnison School, Hope Winch, first head of the University’s pharmacy department, Kenickie (Lauren Laverne, Marie Nixon and Emma Jackson), one of the most famous female-led bands to come from Sunderland, Steph Houghton and Jill Scott, England footballers, Abbie Robinson, Team GB para climber, Kate Adie, journalist and broadcaster, and Emeli Sande, musician and University of Sunderland Chancellor.

Rebel Women of Sunderland is commissioned as part of the Unlock the City programme, which supports the development of artists and creative businesses in Sunderland. Unlock the City is delivered with funding from Arts Council England, National Lottery Heritage Fund and Coastal Communities Fund. Rebel Women of Sunderland was developed in partnership with Open Heritage and Sunderland Heritage Action Zone.

For more information on the Rebel Women Project and related events visit: sunderlandculture.org.uk

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