“We’re Getting What We Want Through Fighting Together”
: An Exploration of Women and Work by British Art Collectives of the 1970s

  • Rosemary Stubbs

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This thesis examines how art collectives of 1970s Britain represented working-class women in the field of work, and how this practice reveals a hidden heritage. It advocates for an interdisciplinary approach to the practice of cultural history, utilising artworks as historical documentation. These art collectives acted as researchers, and the artwork that they created incorporated statistics, photography, and film. These artworks, together with archival material relating to their production, provide evidence of the shifting landscape of women and work in 1970s Britain.
A thematic approach is taken, and three artworks are considered as case studies of the central concerns in the history of women and work. Margaret Harrison, Mary Kelly, and Kay Hunt’s 1975 work Women and Work: A Document on the Division of Labour in Industry (1973-5) examined the implementation of the Equal Pay Act through the lens of the South London Metal Box Co. factory. Berwick Street Film Collective’s 1975 work Nightcleaners documented the Night Cleaners’ Campaign of the early 1970s, as women unionised and took industrial action to call for better pay and working conditions. The Hackney Flashers’ 1978 work Who’s Holding the Baby? addresses the domestic and childcare responsibilities of women. It investigates nursery provision, utilising the Market Nursery in the London Borough of Hackney as an example.
Date of Award1 Dec 2022
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Teesside University
SupervisorNatasha Vall (Supervisor), Lindsey Robb (Supervisor) & Michael Lent (Supervisor)

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