Well, where do I begin? I’m sat at the dining table writing this a few weeks after the Woman! An Exploration of Women in Ancient and Contemporary Culture took place at the beautiful The Great North Museum: Hancock, relishing in every memory, trying to comprehend the impact a collaboration can bring.
It’s hard to believe that the event happened just over a month ago, but there are plenty of memories to hold on to and of course I have to take the opportunity to document them on here.
Back in May, I received an email from the North East England African Community Association (NEEACA) referring Ruth Sheldon, the Project Coordinator/Public Engagement person at the Tyne and Wear Museums. Ruth and the museum were looking to create a long lasting legacy by working with the African community so as to bring and share unique insights into our lives and culture. Over the following weeks, myself and Ruth exchanged ideas and which included my hope of featuring an African woman or women somewhere a long the way.
After weeks of planning and anticipation, the 10th of September finally arrived. Arriving at the museum, we found Ruth and her colleagues already setting up the room where that evening’s event was to be held. There were over 20 round tables extending across the room with the stage appropriately setup with deemed lighting against a backdrop of Teakisi revolution slider. And with a couple of hours left before the first guests would arrive, myself and Dan used the time check if the microphones were working, the music was playing, and all the last minute things that one does before an event is to start.
There were more than 140 guests attending that evening, and for many people in the audience, this was the first in-person outing after 18 months due to the coronavirus pandemic. The voices of attendees filled the space as more and more people filed in. Everyone was here to listen and learn about the role women have played throughout history, but most importantly how this keeps influencing how we live today. The evening was no longer a working progress, but in the here and now as I tweeted on my phone. The energy in the room was infectious with the promise of having a great time, the event started.
Ruth Sheldon opened the evening by greeting the audience and welcoming everyone to this much loved museum in the north east of England. The event clearly held a monumental place in the work she was doing and on behalf of Teakisi, I felt incredibly proud to have been given this opportunity to organise the event.
A speech was then delivered by Dr. Dan Jefferson, the Director and Chair of Teakisi who highlighted the importance of celebrating women becoming pioneers – but also not forgetting that while we are making some strides, it was important that we didn’t forget that gender inequality still exists.
Next up, was Dr. Sally Waite, a lecturer in Greek Art and Archaeology at Newcastle University. Her work aims to develop and promote the Shefton Collection of Greek and Etruscan Archaeology at the Great North Museum: Hancock. Her research focuses primarily on Attic red-figure pottery and the long history of collecting and collections.
The other speaker was to up next was Dr. Clare Ogah is a Doctor of Philosophy and a self taught digital artist specialising in Afrocentric art & beskpoke jewellery. She got into art after realising how therapeutic the process was for her. Clare’s art tells the story of her existence between two major cultural spaces that have resonated and positively impacted her within the multicultural space that she thrives and flourishes in. Last and by no means least to speak was Ngozi Ossai, a Biomedical scientist who founded GOZI Haircare after noticing the lack of social and cultural representation for her hair. Through her business, she hopes to change the narrative about natural haircare black hair as for a long time, it has not only been coined as being difficult to manage; carrying connotations of untidiness, uncleanliness, and unprofessionalism.
And so the evening carried on with guests viewing the stalls and work by all the speakers. And Woman! An Exploration of Women in Ancient and Contemporary Culture was over but the memories we captured during the evening will stay with us forever.
Many people might underestimate the power of such a collaboration but not me – I recognise the positive influence of having two local African women in my community showcase their work to an audience from mixed backgrounds. I recognise that giving them that chance to showcase their work, means influencing our community but most especially the next generation. The evening also allowed me to recognise Ruth and the Hancock museum for putting the trust in Teakisi to deliver and celebrate members of minoritised communities – because without them, change wouldn’t be so tangible.
I started blogging with the sole intention of being heard, completely oblivious to where it could lead. Now, through Teakisi’s work, we are doing much more than just blogging; we are a hub that is here for the community, collaborations and change.
Such a brilliant time it was salha, a very well done to you.
Thanks for taking the time to read the piece Claire!