Locating Sylvia Pankhurst

by Joan Ashworth



This website documents research undertaken by Ashworth to explore ways in which documentary film can be employed to reassess Sylvia Pankhurst’s work and methods of campaigning, calling on the possibilities of animation to unfreeze her drawings and harness new tools to help express ideas embedded in the work. This project also aims to encounter Pankhurst through hearing from those who knew her and worked with her, including original interviews with her son Richard.

Experiment 1

This experiment tests the effectiveness of combining the voice of a former suffragette with one of Sylvia Pankhurst’s paintings.

about Sylvia

Sylvia Pankhurst (1882–1960) made key contributions to the campaign for women’s rights as both an artist and an activist. She was a key figure in the work of the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) set up with her mother Emmeline and sister Christabel in 1903. Educated at the Manchester Municipal School of Art and the Royal College of Art (1904-1906) Pankhurst developed her skills that could be used to further the cause of women’s rights. ... [read more]

aims & methods of the research

Encompassing experimental and exploratory animation techniques, film production processes, conference papers and public exhibition lectures, the research focuses on Pankhurst’s role in influencing political structures in the UK during a time of extraordinary change and revolution across Europe. [read more]


A number of archives were navigated for this research, including the International Institute of Social History, where the Sylvia Pankhurst papers are held. These images are from that archive, and show the East London Toy Factory set up by Pankhurst, Sylvia painting outside the suffragette headquarters in Bow, London, and women metal workers.

Ref: Estelle Sylvia Pankhurst Papers, inventory number Toy factory (1914) IISH BG B8 619-20, Sylvia Painting IISH BG A32 425, & Women metal workers IISG BG B8/694, International Institute of Social History, Amsterdam. [archive]
sylvia statue

Support the Statue for Sylvia campaign

If you are able make a contribution to the statue you can now do so here.

For more information:

conference presentation

The research for this film project was presented at the 2013 ‘¡Documentary Now!’ conference, University College London (UCL), UK. This conference explored “Contemporary Contexts and Possibilities of the Documentary” with three main strands: “Malleability”; “Surveillance and/as Documentary”, and “Enter the Perpetrator.” My paper was part of the Animating History, Weaving Stories panel. [read more]
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