The Pankhurst Maquette: Why the chair?

Emmeline Pankhurst’s own words explain: ‘Day by day our members went forth and held street meetings. Selecting a favourable spot, with a chair for a rostrum, one of us would ring a bell until people began to stop to see what was going to happen. What happened of course, was a lively suffrage speech, and the distribution of literature.’ (My Own Story, 1914).

The photos I love of Emmeline are of her in full flow, elevated so that she can be seen and heard above the crowds, despite her small frame of around 5ft.

Suffragettes used anything they could easily lay their hands on, to get themselves elevated above the crowds – chairs, tables, sofas, wooden crates, carts and carriages.

Symbolically, a domestic wooden kitchen chair provides the petite yet powerful Emmeline, with a public platform.

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