Anna FC Smith + Helen Mather

Photography by Livia Lazar

Images courtesy the artists

This Activation by Anna FC Smith and Helen Mather explores how Leigh women from pre-Peterloo Reform Societies were portrayed as witches and beasts; repurposing this imagery to create art that empowers people with a magical energy drawn from nature. The artists generate art and research with the local community and historians Ruth Mather and Yvonne Eckersley.


The interwoven elements are presented as folkloric objects, where banners and pikes stand like a forest populated with the beasts of the people. The project connects the community with their environment, history and agency, empowering them to roar together; sympathetic, empowered, and enfranchised. 

Throughout lockdown the artists have developed their collaborative practice with local participants who have continued to create responses from home. Their residency will resume at The Turnpike in Autumn 2020, where they will develop an immersive space for co-creation as well as outdoor platforms for debate and performance. 

The project is part of The Turnpike's ongoing exploration of Bioregionalism; a political, cultural, and ecological set of views based on naturally defined areas.  

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The Turnpike, Civic Square, Leigh, WN7 1EB