Once Women Won the Vote Mural

Danielle O'Brien and Marie Cook
Date: 
Saturday, 5 May 2018 to Sunday, 5 May 2019
Curator/s: 
Ren Gregoric

This mural has been made possible by the generous support of Womens Health and Wellbeing Barwon Southwest, Warrnambool City Council Health and Wellbeing, The Victorian Women's Trust, Dulux Warrnambool and Her Place Women's Museum Australia.

'Once Women Won the Vote' is a colourful mural on the facade of the Warrnambool Art Gallery that pays tribute to the everyday women involved in the 1891 Women’s Suffrage Petition who courageously fought for women’s’ rights, suffrage as well as social and legislative reform that would allow many Victorians the right to self-determination, agency and justice; a profound legacy that continues today. The mural includs a number of symbolic design features:

The Monster Petition

The Monster Petition (the 1891 Women’s Suffrage Petition) is shown four times across the bottom of the mural signifying that it was made in many pieces, celebrating the astonishing achievement of Victorian women collecting 30,000 signatures in six weeks and acknowledging it was to become one of the cornerstones in the Women’s Movement. The petition supports a yellow/green shape with a three curved edge, these curves represent the three waves of feminism. Within the curves are two red/violet lines, one of which cradles the figures, these represent the signatures on the petition.

The Figures

Visually supported by the petitions are two sets of stylised figures symbolising the everyday women of the Southwest working together in a determined, focused and harmonious way to achieve their goal.The construction of the figures also references the Monster Petition as it folds and twists around to create and enfold them. The ‘hand’ and ‘feet’ details reference Victorian design. Another interpretation of the figures is that they are signing the petition.

Suffragette Collar

At the top of the mural (left and centre) are the bottom sections of two classic 1890’s necklines, necklaces and pink dresses. The ‘collars' of the dresses are made up of the suffragette colours which Vida Goldstein brought back from Britain to Australia and used in her political campaign in Kooyong in 1913. She had interpreted the colours incorrectly earlier (see reference below).

Vida Goldstein

Vida Mary Jane Goldstein was a pioneering feminist and suffragist born in Portland, 1869 who was a key contributor to the Monster Petition. Vida’s first name signature (traced from the petition) has been placed at the top of the mural as a tribute to this significant women; a peron who lead the way on many issues throughout her life, regardless of popular opinion.

Colours

The mural colour scheme is playful and strong. It creates a  contrast to the stark quality and colours of the surrounding environment and deliberately does not scream 'look at me’. It is boldly quiet and is intended by it’s difference and positivity to brand gallery and to convey the idea that the gallery is a busy, fun and welcoming space. The suffragette colours have been used extensively throughout the image.

Image credit: Danielle O'Brien and Marie Cook, Once Women Won the Vote mural design (detail), 2018.