Maggie Wheeler is part of Norwich-based guerrilla art project, Rosie’s Plaques. Here she explains why their latest alternative blue plaque is helping to raise money for the Sue Lambert Trust, the Norfolk charity supporting those who have experienced sexual and domestic abuse
When Norwich-based guerrilla art project, Rosie’s Plaques, started selling badges to tie in with their latest alternative blue plaque, back in November, they were amazed to sell more than a thousand in just a few hours.
Both the badges and the blue plaque bear the message: ‘For our sisters who were Just Walking Home’ – and both were created in response to the brutal killing of Sarah Everard in March 21, which sparked widespread debate about women’s safety in the UK.
Maggie Wheeler from Rosie’s Plaques said they chose Sue Lambert Trust as the beneficiary of their badge fundraising because it is Norfolk’s main charity offering free, specialist, clinical support to survivors of sexual violence and domestic abuse. Plus, like the women involved in Rosie’s Plaques, all the qualified and experienced counsellors providing support are volunteers.
They started selling the badges at £10 for five, online and also at Bookbugs and Dragon Tales bookshop, the Book Hive and Tombland bookshop in Norwich.
Maggie says: ‘Our campaign is about culture change; we are raising awareness of the need for a culture where women are recognised for their achievement and contribution to society and can feel safe on the streets. When we realised that less than 12 per cent of the 4500-plus heritage plaques in the UK celebrated the lives, achievements and spaces of women, we felt it was a bloody outrage.’
Rosie’s Plaques is the brainchild of The Common Lot theatre group from Norfolk. Women from the group produced a play in 2018 called ‘All Mouth No Trousers’ which focused on the unsung heroic women of Norfolk. During the research for the show, they discovered how few women have been honoured by blue plaques – of Norwich’s 300 blue plaques, only 25 are dedicated to women. The Rosie’s Plaques project began in Norwich in May 2019 with eight ‘alternative’ blue plaques being erected, under cover of darkness.
This most recent plaque is situated near St Giles’ Street. All the members of Rosie’s Plaques had a hand, quite literally, in creating this alternative blue plaque which bears the message; ‘For our sisters who were Just Walking Home.’
Clive Evans, chief executive officer of Sue Lambert Trust adds: ‘We are incredibly grateful for the support of the Rosie’s Plaques’ team. The plaque and badges have such a simple but poignant message. Every week our team of counsellors provides one to one support to more than 320 people: helping them to recover, heal and build resilience. The funds raised by Rosie’s Plaques will help us to continue to deliver that support and hopefully expand our services at a time when self-referrals are growing exponentially.’
The Common Lot describe their guerrilla art as ‘Craftivism’; they put the plaques on buildings around Norwich under cover of darkness, dressed as 1940’s feminist icon ‘Rosie the Riveter’. They raised over £5000 through a successful crowdfunder and using their research toolkit, have reached out to women across the country to see their vision of alternative blue plaques appearing all over the country become a reality.
For more information about Sue Lambert Trust visit www.suelamberttrust.org. To find out more about Rosie’s Plaques and purchase badges visit www.rosiesplaques.com. Rosie’s Plaques has also started to sell tote bags and T-shirts showing the plaque – and the funds are also going to Sue Lambert Trust.
Featured image: Norwich-based guerrilla art project, Rosie’s Plaques (Maggie Wheeler is second from right)