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Craftivism inspires Heritage Open Days at People’s History Museum @PHMMcr

11 September 2019

Left to right Disrupt Peterloo and Protest exhibition, Peterloo commemorative sampler and Disrupt Peterloo and Protest exhibition @ People's History Museum

People’s History Museum (PHM) is marking this year’s Heritage Open Days (13 September to 22 September 2019) in the spirit of craftivism as part of its exploration of the past, present and future of protest throughout 2019.

Craftivism is a form of activism seen throughout history, which contemporary campaigners have explored with considerable creativity.  The acquisition of a rare Peterloo artefact that will go on display at the museum expresses craftivism of the past, whilst looking to the future there is the opportunity to be inspired by the work and vision of the Craftivist Collective.

Peterloo commemorative knitted sampler to go on public display for the first time, from 16 September 2019

People’s History Museum has acquired a unique and rare Peterloo commemorative knitted sampler that was created in the aftermath of the Peterloo Massacre, which took place in Manchester 200 years ago.  The hand crafted piece carries the words ‘Sacred to the memory of H Hunt Esq’ in reference to the fact that Henry Hunt was one of the speakers that the crowd of peaceful protestors had gathered to hear on 16 August 1819.  It also remembers ‘J Johnson Esq’, one of the organisers of the meeting as well as ‘those who escaped the bloody massacre’.

The knitted sampler will be a new addition to the national museum of democracy’s highly acclaimed exhibition Disrupt? Peterloo and Protest, when it goes on display on Monday 16 September and will be exhibited until the exhibition closes on Sunday 23 February 2019.

The knitted sampler is believed to be the work of Martha Varley, whose name also features on the work, and is thought to have been created during the 19th century.  Kloe Rumsey, Conservator at People’s History Museum, says, “It has been skilfully made in different colours of cotton yarn, and, we believe, in two stages. The last two lines have been attached separately, knitted from a slightly different yarn and to a different tension, so we believe these lines are a later addition, possibly inspired by related political events.”

Sam Jenkins, Collections Officer at People’s History Museum, says, “Whilst a sampler would normally be a piece of embroidery, we are using this traditional name to describe this new acquisition because of the similar design and purpose.  This knitted sampler is incredibly rare, both in style and sentiment, and is the only known example of a Peterloo commemorative knitted textile.  This shows the long history of Peterloo commemoration, despite the authorities’ attempts to justify the massacre and the restrictions placed on people in the years following.  The effort, thought and skill that went into creating this homage to the people of Peterloo makes it even more special, and we are delighted to have it as part of the People’s History Museum collection.”

The Peterloo commemorative knitted sampler has been purchased with assistance from the V&A Purchase Grant Fund, The National Lottery Heritage Fund’s Collecting Cultures Programme and The Fabric of Protest workshop participants, from a monthly textile workshop at People’s History Museum.  For further information on Disrupt? Peterloo and Protest visit

The Gentle Art of Protest – Sunday 22 September 2019

A free #DareToDream workshop will be taking place on Sunday 22 September (11.00am – 2.30pm) with the founder of the global Craftivist Collective, Sarah Corbett.  Inspired by the power of dreams to affect change in society, participants will be making fabric dream clouds, which they can hang in public to provoke thought or take home as a reminder of the world they’re dreaming of.  The workshop is a drop in, with each session lasting approximately 20 minutes.  No craft skills are required and ethically sourced materials will be provided.

Also on Sunday 22 September (3.00pm – 4.30pm) there is a chance to join Sarah as she discusses How To Be A Craftivist in the art of gentle protest.  As well as sharing her own fascinating experiences Sarah will be discussing what the future of protest looks like, and what can be learnt from the changemakers of the past.  This special event is part of the Heritage Open Days Unsung Stories project.

Spaces for Sarah’s talk must be booked in advance via

More information on the workshop, which doesn’t have to be booked in advance, is available here

Both events are part of a national project supported by People’s Postcode Lottery.

Throughout 2019 People’s History Museum is exploring the past, present and future of protest in its galleries, exhibitions and events programme.  The museum’s Family Friendly activities, community exhibitions, and current display of banners all illuminate these themes for visitors.

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 and its exhibitions are free to enter with a suggested donation of £5.  To find out about visiting the museum, its full exhibition and events programme visit


For further information please contact Fido PR: /

0161 832 3588

A Selection of images can be found here:


You can read Protest and Peterloo, a piece written by People’s History Museum’s Researcher Dr Shirin Hirsch about the events of 16 August 1819 here:


Notes to editors:

About People’s History Museum (PHM)

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 all people 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 looked at representation and commemorated 100 years since the first women and all men won the right to vote in Britain, 2019 sees a year of activities around protest movements to mark the bicentenary of the Peterloo Massacre in Manchester, and the programme for 2020 will be on the theme of migration.  Recent winner of Kids in Museums Family Friendly Museum Award.


The Fabric of Protest is a monthly textile workshop at People’s History Museum led by artist Helen Mather, where participants take inspiration from the museum’s collection to produce pieces of artwork, learn new techniques and share ideas.  For further information visit


About Arts Council England (ACE)

PHM is an Arts Council England (ACE) National Portfolio Organisation (NPO).  The work of PHM is supported using public funding by ACE, 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.


About the V&A Purchase Grant Fund

  • The V&A Purchase Grant Fund is a government fund that helps regional museums, record offices and specialist libraries in England and Wales to acquire objects relating to the arts, literature and history.
  • It was established at the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) in 1881 and continues to be part of its nationwide work.
  • The annual grants budget, currently £600,000, is now provided by Arts Council England (ACE).
  • Each year, the Purchase Grant Fund considers some 250 applications and awards grants to around 100 organisations, enabling acquisitions of over £3 million to go ahead.
  • Visit the website:


The National Lottery Heritage Fund (NLHF)

The Peterloo commemorative knitted sampler was purchased by PHM with support from the NLHF Collecting Cultures programme.  Collecting Cultures supports museums, libraries and archives to develop their collections through strategic acquisition projects.

Thanks to National Lottery players, The National Lottery Heritage Fund invest money to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about – from the archaeology under our feet to the historic parks and buildings we love, from precious memories and collections to rare wildlife.  Follow NLHF on TwitterFacebook and Instagram and use #NationalLotteryHeritageFund.



Sam Jenkins, Collections Officer:

Sam manages PHM’s whole collection, as well as arranging to borrow loans from other institutions as needed.  Sam has helped to bring together the objects that feature within the Disrupt? Peterloo and Protest exhibition.  Sam can discuss the Peterloo commemorative knitted sampler along with all other objects on display in the Disrupt? Peterloo and Protest exhibition, and the wider museum collection.

Kloe Rumsey, Conservator:

Kloe specialises in object conservation and cares for PHM’s entire collection, including banners, furniture, ceramics and posters.  Kloe has carried out careful surface cleaning on the Peterloo commemorative knitted sampler using specialist equipment.  Along with the sampler, Kloe has conserved the artefacts on display in the Disrupt? Peterloo and Protest exhibition and can talk about these objects and their stories.

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