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Bee the Change

20 July 2018

Sylvia Pankhurst inspired bee flies into PHM

One of the highlights of Manchester’s Bee in the City sculpture trail (23 July to 23 September 2018), a dazzlingly colourful giant Sylvia Pankhurst bee celebrating the suffragette story, has landed at the People’s History Museum.

The Sylvia bee, which has been sponsored by UNISON Manchester and UNISON North West, is the creation of Manchester based designer and artist Anna Mullin (AKA Sneaky Raccoon) whose design pays tribute to Sylvia Pankhurst (5 May 1882 – 27 September 1960), the Manchester born suffragette and daughter of the movement’s founder Emmeline Pankhurst, who dedicated her life to fighting for women’s equality.

The bee design references the period suffragette dress, featuring the movement’s iconic colour scheme; purple representing loyalty and dignity, white for purity, and green for hope. Emblazoned across the back is the inspirational message “Bee the Change”.

Located in the entrance foyer of the People’s History Museum, Sylvia bee is very at home amongst the museum’s stories about the past and present of democracy.  It’s current Family Friendly exhibition Represent! Voices 100 Years On tells of those who campaigned for better representation and features iconic artefacts, banners, photographs and interactive elements from campaigns including that of the suffragettes.

Sylvia’s creator Anna Mullin (AKA Sneaky Raccoon) comments, “I’ve always admired women and individuals such as Sylvia Pankhurst for their work in creating positive change for future generations. She was the main visual designer behind the bold colours and branding synonymous with the Suffragette campaigns so it only felt natural to pay homage to this historical context in my design. Bringing real change through adversity was the main source of inspiration, as well as highlighting that we must ‘bee the change’ in order to do what we can to halt the decline of bees. The people of Manchester have a unique, strong unity with unwavering positivity, and so I hope that everyone enjoys visiting Sylvia at the People’s History Museum as part of the Big Bees sculpture trail.”

Jane Wilcox, Assistant Branch Secretary at UNISON Manchester, comments, “As soon as we saw Anna’s design we knew it was a perfect fit for us, reminding us of the stories of a city that gave rise to both the suffragette and trade union movements.  And as the museum that charts the ongoing struggle for equality, the People’s History Museum is the perfect place for people to meet Sylvia bee.”

Sylvia is one of 101 supersized bee sculptures located across Manchester as part of the Big Bees sculpture trail and joining her at the People’s History Museum are five Little Bee sculptures that have been designed by pupils from schools around the region.  This free, fun, Family Friendly event organised by Wild in Art and supported by Manchester City Council invites people to ‘bee happy’, turning the city into a creative adventure for all.

To celebrate its involvement in Bee in the City, the People’s History Museum will be holding a free Family Friendly workshop on Wednesday 8 August 2018, 1.00pm – 3.00pm, giving children the chance to create their very own clay bee to take home!  Make Your Mark: creative workshops are drop in activities taking place every Wednesday in the school summer holidays, booking suggested via Eventbrite, pay what you feel at the event.

The Big Bees and Little Bees sculpture trail takes place from 23 July to 23 September 2018 as part of Bee in the City.  Visitors can pick up a sculpture trail map at People’s History Museum.  A visit to the museum is the perfect accompaniment to a trip around the sculpture trail, where its collections, galleries and events shed light onto many of the themes explored in the artworks.

Represent! Voices 100 Years On is a Family Friendly exhibition that is open daily until Sunday 3 February 2019.  People’s History Museum is open seven days a week from 10.00am to 5.00pm, and is free to enter with a suggested donation of £5.  To find out about visiting the museum, its full events programme and more, visit



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Notes to editors:

Little Bee sculpture trail

The five Little Bee sculptures located at the People’s History Museum are Prospect Vale Primary School in Heald Green’s Beenigma, which celebrates the life and achievements of computer scientist and mathematician Alan Turing, known for his code cracking at Bletchley Park during World War II, and also celebrates the work of Manchester born suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst.  The Rights to Bee is the creation of Our Lady’s RC Primary School in Whalley Range and explores the rights of children across the world.  Russell Scott Primary School in Denton looks at the town’s heritage as the world centre of the hatting industry, celebrating this identity and sense of place through the eyes of local children.  Cheadle Hulme School – Senior School’s bee Wacky the Waconian gives a fascinating insight into its beginnings as a school for orphaned boys and children.   The Firs Primary School in Sale took inspiration from their school colours, ethos and farm to create a floral themed design, Beelieve.

About the People’s History Museum (PHM)

The People’s History Museum (PHM) in Manchester is the national museum of democracy, telling the story of its development in Britain: past, present, and future.  The museum provides opportunities for people of all ages to learn about, be inspired by and get involved in ideas worth fighting for; ideas such as equality, social justice, co-operation, and a fair world for all.  PHM offers a powerful programme with annual themes; 2018 looks at representation and commemorates 100 years since the first women and all men got the vote, and 2019 will see a year of activities around protest movements to mark the bicentenary of the Peterloo Massacre in Manchester, 1819.

People’s History Museum is open seven days a week from 10.00am to 5.00pm, Radical Lates are on the second Thursday each month, open until 8.00pm.  The museum is free to enter with a suggested donation of £5.

Current winner of Kids in Museums Family Friendly Museum Award.. | Twitter: @PHMMcr | | Instagram: @phmmcr

About Arts Council England (ACE)

Arts Council England (ACE) is the national development body for arts and culture across England, working to enrich people’s lives.  ACE support a range of activities across the arts, museums and libraries – from theatre to visual art, reading to dance, music to literature, and crafts to collections.  Great art and culture inspires us, brings us together and teaches us about ourselves and the world around us.  In short, it makes life better.  Between 2018 and 2022, ACE will invest £1.45 billion of public money from government and an estimated £860 million from the National Lottery to help create these experiences for as many people as possible across the country.

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