Exhibition celebrating Suffolk women in agriculture opens in Ipswich

The gallery room at Dance East with Strong Women of Suffolk on display

The Strong Women of Suffolk exhibition will be showing at Dance East from October 19 to November 6 - Credit: Archant

An exhibition celebrating the lives of women working in agriculture in Suffolk in the 1920s and 30s has opened its doors. 

The Strong Women of Suffolk art exhibition at the DanceEast Whisper Gallery was meant to open in May 2020, but Covid-19 forced a postponement. 

But that didn't faze artist Trisha Mitchell, 52, who used the time to create more collage pieces for display. 

The mixed material creations combine vintage photographs - taken from David Kindred's books of work by Leonard and Ralph Titshall - with older fabrics to illustrate the images and give them "new life". 

Mrs Mitchell was born in London but moved to Ipswich 13 years ago - and in doing so, she says she's "found her spiritual home". 

She said: "In my heart I'm a countryside person, but being an outsider also allowed me to look at things slightly differently. 

"The agricultural community is so undervalued and women especially so. 

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"A farmer's wife would have to feed and clothe the household, raise the children and know the ins and outs of the farm. 

"But they didn't have any security - if the farmer died, the farm would be passed onto the next male in the family. 

"So I wanted to celebrate these women in these pieces and I'm very proud of the message." 

The period of history these images cover is right on the cusp of farming's most radical change: the switch from horsepower to machines.

Trisha Mitchell's first art exhibition, titled Strong Women of Suffolk

The mixed material collages have been created by Trisha Mitchell - Credit: Archant

A lot of research was required to understand the lives of the women in the pictures - from the detail of the First World War land army coats worn by women working with the horses, to the ages of children deduced by what type of uniform they wore. 

Mrs Mitchell studied a diploma in art and design at Suffolk New College in 2017 and this is her first exhibition. 

She said it had been "a challenge" but the "support from the town had been wonderful". 

"The DanceEast team have been fantastic, offering help, advice and support freely. 

"And of course it's been great to have the support of David Kindred, who has been complimentary and full of knowledge to share. 

"I didn't know until I moved to East Anglia that I had what it takes to be an artist, but I'd love to do more. Another series looking at agricultural men, perhaps!" 

The exhibition is on show in the Whisper Gallery at DanceEast from October 19 to November 6.

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