the women placing their hands and the hand that rocks the cradle needlework

by Sarah MacLean

Lesbian Archive volunteers have been researching and responding to the Lesbian and LGBTQ collections for the last six months. As part of the LGBTQ Collections Online Resource, we present some of their responses to the collection and the materials they have discovered.
Sarah MacLean, the women placing their hands, needlework, 2017

Sarah MacLean, the women placing their hands, needlework, 2017

It isn’t just one thing within the Lesbian Archives that’s come to interest me, it’s everything.

It’s the smallest things, the ephemera most of all – the tiny adverts, the in-the-margins illustrations, the obscure events – because I feel that these fleeting things represent an important and very human aspect of history.

They stand to me as proof, through their sheer volume and variety, that women have always been here, have always been fighting, organising, politicising, and vocalising. That we’ve always found ways, however small or fleeting, to make our mark.

Sarah MacLean, the hand that rocks the cradle, needlework, 2017

Sarah MacLean, the hand that rocks the cradle, needlework, 2017

They’re massively important too both politically, and in what they represent about women’s art and creativity. At the end of the day, no one gave these lesbian women a platform so they created one themselves. And what’s more, they used this platform to create art that while often very small, proved that art doesn’t need to be big or grand to be important.

By creating similarly small-scale works in an arguably ‘feminine’ hand-craft medium using materials literally handed down to me from generations before, it’s this small-but-mighty notion that I hope to do justice to.

Return to The Personal is Political: Lesbian Life or the LGBTQ Collections Online Resource.

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