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Discrete CollectionsThe Women's Library
TitleRecords of See Red Women's Workshop
Ref No5SRW
Box Fetch NoBox 1
Extent0.5 A box
Admin Biographical HistorySee Red Women's Workshop was founded in 1974 by three ex art stu-dents who wanted to use their visual skills to combat the negative images of women prevalent at that time and to promote women's liberation. We met through an ad placed in Red Rag, a feminist magazine, asking for women in the visual arts to meet to discuss how we could combat the neg-ative images of women in society. See Red Women's Workshop grew out of that meeting, with its main aims being to produce posters promoting women's liberation and to challenge women's oppression.

Producing silk screened posters was at the time the most immediate and cheapest way of getting our messages across. To work as a co-operative, no hierarchy, no one individual taking credit, sharing skills and knowledge and accessible to all women was the guiding principle behind the founding of the workshop. All designs were worked on collectively with no one indi-vidual taking the credit. We believed that anyone can draw and create a poster, and we actively set out to subvert the concept of the Artist with a capital 'A' as the sole individual creator. Attending different Women's Lib-eration Movement conferences and events were annual highlights: with arms full of posters and a couple of screens and inks we would do a work-shop, and encourage women to design and print their own posters. With the use of catalogues the posters were sold mainly through mail order, in radical and women's bookshops, and at conferences and meetings.

It was vital to us that our posters were accessible and relevant to as many women as possible, with a simple image, good design and an eye-catching heading . Humour was an important of our work and was a way of presenting ideas in an accessible way, encouraging women to challenge the status quo. It was a way of deconstructing received ideas that political posters should be aggressive and serious, as well as confounding the ac-cusations that feminists were humourless!

The workshop on average consisted of about 6 women at any one time: in all over 45 women worked with See Red over 16 years. Some came to produce posters around issues which were important to them, others came on apprenticeship schemes for a few months, with others staying on to join the Collective.

The posters explored the personal experiences of women - The personal is political - from the oppression of housework, child care, everyday sex-ism, racism, unequal pay and gender discrimination. As we grew with the Women's Liberation movement, we broadened and made other posters looking at womens' oppression nationally and internationally, at sexuality, women's health issues, women in prison, and many more topics.

Originally based in squats, we eventually settled in derelict premises off the Walworth Rd, London, where all renovations were carried out by the collective and women in the building trades.

Violence was a constant threat: after we produced some posters urging women to organize against the National Front and fight racism our premis-es became a target of the National Front, with racist stickers, smashed doors, ink poured over the machinery, trashed workshop, 'phone lines cut and the mail urinated on.

Funds for See Red came through the sale of the posters and from printing for community groups and was ploughed back into running the workshop. Until we received grants, first from Southwark Council and then the GLC in 1983, we all had part time jobs, or were signing on, or had child-care com-mitments.

In 1983, the workshop moved to better and more secure premises and ceased producing new posters for the women's movement - though the original posters were still reprinted and sold - concentrating instead on ser-vice printing for community and women's group's work. See Red Women's workshop closed in 1990.

In the past few years there has been a resurgence of interest in See Red's posters, from galleries and museums to zine and design festivals, and - especially closest to our hearts- from young women artists/activists, and a range of women's groups. The posters seem able to speak to different generations, although it indicates, as if we were in any doubt, that the struggle for women's freedom and equality is far from won.

'See Red Womens Workshop: Feminist Posters 1974-1990'
published by Four Corners Books

Text by Susan Mackie (Oct 2021)
DescriptionThe archive consists of papers relating to the activities and members of See Red Women's Workshop. It includes correspondence; notebooks containing minutes; press cuttings; poster catalogues and photographs showing members at work in the screen-print workshop.
Related MaterialSee also The Women's Library Museum collection TWL.2006.02 : a collection of 50 posters and 12 postcards produced by See Red Women's Workshop.
As at 2007 there were an additional 23 See Red objects (posters and one calendar) held in the wider TWL Museum collection [search 'Any text' for 'See Red'].
The Women's Library Printed Collections include some publications with illustrations by 'See Red'.
Copies of See Red Womens Workshop posters are also held in collections at the Tate and at the Victoria & Albert Museum. The V&A also conducted an oral history interview with members of the Workshop.
Related RecordTWL/2006/02
Access StatusOpen
Access ConditionsThis collection is available for research. Readers are advised to contact The Women's Library @ LSE in advance of their first visit.
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