Woman’s Outlook front cover. First edition, November 1919. Image credit: Image reproduced by kind courtesy of National Co-operative Archive, Manchester.

We are embarking on a collaborative project to explore the connections between our two research practices.

Jo Darnley’s research into Woman’s Outlook magazine (1919 – 67) maps the complexity of gender ideology in the interwar co-operative movement. The magazine was published by the National Co-operative Publishing Society (est. 1871) and was edited by Annie Bamford – Tomlinson from 1919 – 1933. Woman’s Outlook presents a window into the co-operative woman’s everyday lived experience and the co-operative movement’s visual and material culture. Jo is investigating ways to introduce new contemporary audiences to the National Co-operative Archive located in Manchester. At the Co-operative Education Conference in April 2016, Jo participated in a multi-disciplinary panel of researchers. She discussed her role as a researcher who is newly associated with the Co-operative College.

Gemma Meek’s work investigates the creation of book art as a socially engaged practice. This involves research into the creation of books in an artistic manner with social groups outside of artistic roles (homeless groups, communities of place, mental health participants).

Our shared research interests have led to the development of a collaborative workshop that encourages participants to select, map and transform imagery from Woman’s Outlook onto a collage page. Each participant’s page is drawn together into the space of a book to encourage new multi-vocal readings. This workshop travelled to the Nordic Summer University in Riga, Latvia, as a method of exploring research communities and transforming gendered imagery.

Our shared interests were stimulated by participation in the ‘Artful Prose’ workshops delivered by Amanda Ravetz and Myna Trustram from the School of Art. This was a series of four workshops that explored the connections between writing, the visual and making, by means of drawing, artists’ books and bodily movement. This varied from making collaborative artists’ books to carrying a chair on our backs!

We have also taken the magazine and the workshop to conferences in Leeds, Budapest and Portugal. If you are interested in participating in research that aims to explore new ways to open up the National Co-operative Archive in Manchester, contact: joanne.darnley@stu.mmu.ac.uk.

As featured in the Manchester School of Art, Research Degree Programme Newsletter Autumn 2016