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Textile car takes centre stage at Sydney Russell exhibition celebrating Barking and Dagenham women

PUBLISHED: 10:00 07 April 2019

Pupils, teachers and people from a number of arts organisations at Sydney Russell School at the opening of an exhibition inspired by historic women from the borough. Picture: JON KING

Pupils, teachers and people from a number of arts organisations at Sydney Russell School at the opening of an exhibition inspired by historic women from the borough. Picture: JON KING

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A car made out of textiles took centre stage at the opening of a school exhibition inspired by the women of the borough.

L-R: Jay, 14, and Georgia, 13, officially open the exhibition. Picture: JON KINGL-R: Jay, 14, and Georgia, 13, officially open the exhibition. Picture: JON KING

Pupils at Sydney Russell School in Parsloes Avenue, Dagenham, sewed the vehicle in tribute to the women who took part in the Ford sewing machinists strike of 1968.

The colourful car – which inlcudes the slogan, ‘We all have equal rights’, on the side – was created as part of a three year arts project with the Barbican, architects’ group RARA and theatre company Complicite.

School principal, Janis Davies, said: “It’s been an absolutely fabulous project that has tackled some real, sensitive issues which will have a lasting impact on the children.

“I am thrilled we will be working with the Barbican for another year.”

A car made of textiles forms part of an exhibition celebrating historic women from Barking and Dagenham. Picture: JON KINGA car made of textiles forms part of an exhibition celebrating historic women from Barking and Dagenham. Picture: JON KING

Youngsters created clothes, took photos and crafted poetry to celebrate Barking and Dagenham’s historic, female figures including Ethelburga, founder of a double monastery for monks and nuns in Barking.

Georgia, 13, said of the project: “It’s opened up my eyes. I didn’t know about the strikes or that they were so close to us.

“It was literally just round the corner.”

Bex Hand, schools manager at the Barbican, said: “[The pupils] are brilliant. I was surprised at just how engaged they were with their local history.”

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