Sculpture opens Westminster doors

The oldest building in the Palace of Westminster is hosting a contemporary sculpture marking the centenary of female franchise.

Kristina Clackson Bonnington’s House of Doors has pride of place in the 11thcentury Westminster Hall, the historic entrance to the Houses of Parliament, until December 3.

Bonnington, the University College London artist in residence, was inspired by Harriet Halhed’s The Little Girl at the Door, painted at the height of the Suffragette campaign in 1910 and which is now in The Beaney Museum in Canterbury. Voting for women over 30 was passed by Parliament in 1918.

 

Harriet Halhed's portioning The Little Girl at the Door.

Main image copyright Jessica Taylor

Westminster Hall represents the history of British democracy and the political obstacles which women had to overcome in the early 20th century, she says. The 1866 petition, the first mass petition from women asking for the vote, was delivered to Westminster Hall, and subsequently numerous women campaigners came to the hall to lobby for women’s suffrage.  Suffragette Emily Wilding Davison – later killed at the Epsom Derby when she threw herself in front of the horse owned by the king - hid in a broom cupboard off the Hall on census night 1911 to establish she was resident in Parliament that night. 

"Placing the House of Doors in the very heart of Parliament at this precise moment in time is hugely powerful,” she said. “By doing so, a unique opportunity has been created to witness both the designed exclusion faced by all women in the early 1900s, and to simultaneously observe how British politics and gender equality has changed over the past 100 years.”

 

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