A pop-up exhibition celebrating women’s history in the East End opened yesterday (May 28) in Tower Hamlets.
East End Women: The Real Story, tells the inspirational stories of local women who fought for social justice. Displays feature past and present east London women, from Victorian Matchwomen to suffragettes to members of parliament. There is even space to dress up as a Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) suffragette, Votes for Women sashes included.
The exhibition, located in Shadwell and curated by the East End Women’s Collective, is part of the backlash against the controversial Jack the Ripper Museum on nearby Cable Street. Originally proposed as a museum dedicated to women’s history, the private museum instead was dedicated to a serial killer who murdered women.
A online petition on 38 degrees urging Tower Hamlets Council to revoke planning permission for the Ripper Museum received over 13,000 signatures.
Campaigners calling for the museum’s closure claim it glamourises sexual violence against women. The East End Women’s Collective intend to “celebrate the lives of East End Women, not just their deaths.” They also state that for many women the threat of sexual violence is not a past subject for a museum, for them it is still a reality.
Bethan Lant of the East End Women’s Collective said: “The history of the East End is full of amazing women who fought for social justice and a better world for all.
“It’s important that people have an opportunity to find out about them and to understand and be proud of the richness of that history. There’s so much more to the East End than the Ripper.”
Mark Palmer-Edgecumbe, founder of the Jack the Ripper Museum told East London Lines: “I welcome and support this exhibition and wish them well.”
Visitors can write their own stories of inspirational East End women on the exhibition website. East End Women: The Real Story can be seen at St-George-in-the-East church in Shadwell until July 9.