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WWI and the Women’s Movement – Purple Poppies

The Purple Poppy Phase will explore the contrasting ways women’s roles were being pulled during the era of WWI. This period of time was marked by calls for women to sew and knit for the front, sewing machines becoming accessible to households –individually or collectively – for the first time, and women taking up roles previously restricted to men. It was also en era of intense campaigning for women’s right to vote, which was ultimately granted at the end of the war.

In this phase we will use a wide variety of techniques and patterns to make poppies, including knitting and crochet, felt and Suffolk puffs. Machine embellishments will be encouraged, and the individuality of women, rather than a homogenised sub-caste, will be represented by the wide ranging techniques employed.

As men fought on the front, an estimated 2 million women filled jobs they left empty, while in the field nurses were saving lives and experiencing the conflict first hand. At the end of the war, women were forced out of the workforce accelerating the drive for universal suffrage. In 1918, the right to vote was initially granted to women over 30 who owned property.

The Representation of the People Act, 1928, gave the right to vote to all women over the age of 21.