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Image: Kenickie by Kathryn Robertson

Selected to represent the diversity and achievements of women in Sunderland, fourteen women’s lives will come under the spotlight as part of the 25th anniversary of Heritage Open Days this month. The Rebel Women of Sunderland was inspired by the popular children’s book Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls, which shines a light on the achievements of women around the world.

Crowd-sourced through social media, with over 100 nominations received, the team at Sunderland Culture whittled the extensive list down and commissioned two young female creatives from Sunderland – illustrator Kathryn Robertson and writer Jessica Andrews – to collaborate on the project, producing illustrations and stories to tell their tales.

The Rebel Women of Sunderland included in the exhibition are Dr Marion Philips, the first female MP in Sunderland; Margaret Dryburgh, teacher and missionary; Ida and Lousie Cook, activists who smuggled Jews out of Nazi Germany; Elizabeth Donnison, founder of the Donnison School; Hope Winch, first head of the University’s pharmacy department; Kenickie (Lauren Laverne, Marie Nixon and Emma Jackson), one of the most famous female-led bands to come from Sunderland; Steph Houghton and Jill Scott, England footballers; Abbie Robinson, Team GB paraclimber; Kate Adie, journalist and broadcaster and Emeli Sande, musician and University of Sunderland Chancellor.

Laura Brewis, Creative Producer at Sunderland Culture, said: “The theme of Heritage Open Day is ‘People Power’ and we wanted to take this opportunity to celebrate the achievements of women from the city from a historical perspective, but also in the present. Many of these stories are unknown and we were very keen to highlight them.

“We were thrilled to get so many nominations and we know that this is just the start of the Rebel Women of Sunderland project – we hope to tell more stories in the future and encourage people to keep nominating! That we were able to do this by commissioning young female creatives from the city is also really important, as we hope that hearing these stories will inspire the next generation of Rebel Women in the city.”

The illustrations and stories will be on display at Sunderland Culture’s Mini Manifestos family event on Saturday 14th September at Pop Recs Ltd’s High Street West store, where it’ll remain until Sunday 22nd September.

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