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A BEACON OF LIGHT
We Are the Pelicans: Hidden Stories Exhibition
Our new exhibition, We Are the Pelicans: Hidden Stories, has been created by a group of women alongside artist, Shiori Naruse, and charity Changing Lives. The exhibition runs from Friday 9 September until Monday 28 November.
Working with artist Shiori Naruse, a group of women engaged with the organisation Changing Lives have created a series of works responding to some of the imagery and themes within Newcastle Cathedral. One of the images which most strongly affected them was that of the pelican.
The pelican is widely used in many traditions as a symbol of love, sacrifice and generosity. Legend says that female pelicans would pierce their breast with their beak to feed their young with their own blood in times of famine. We now know that this is not accurate, and it’s thought instead that the red markings on a pelican’s beak might have caused this theory, but its symbolism remains. In the Christian faith the pelican is used as a symbol of the sacrifice that Jesus Christ made for humanity. The women whose work you see here felt they could relate very closely with this symbol, in particular its connection to motherhood.
The group explored the Cathedral, searching for representations of women. They considered the use of male-centric language in ledger stones and memorials and were particularly inspired by the only stained-glass window in the Cathedral that has been designed by a woman, Caroline Townshend. They were inspired by her accomplishments at a time when marriage and childbearing were seen as the only path a woman should take.
In the work you see here, symbols have been used to represent gender to fill in some gaps in representation in the Cathedral. Tulips represent growth and blossoming, which echoes the progression of the work during the women’s weekly workshops. Drawing, collage and printing techniques were used, with a particular focus on monoprinting. Monoprinting is a form of printmaking where the image can only be produced once. This echoes the unique brilliance, perspective and experience of each individual woman.
‘We are nurturing, we are motherhood, we are the boss.’
‘Motherhood isn’t just a mother; it can be a friend. We are kind and compassionate people’.
‘We have been labelled, made bad mistakes, learned from them and grown. Everyone has goodness in them regardless of what they have done, where they have been and what gender they are.’
‘Every life matters. Women matter. Gender plays an important role, and we want to be represented and recognised how we want to be recognised. As a society we need to grow and learn, gender is more complex that just man or woman.’
About Changing Lives
Changing Lives is a nationwide charity helping people facing challenging times to make positive change – for good.
The charity supports thousands of people annually through over 100 services across England. Changing Lives is dedicated to supporting people to reach their potential, including addiction and recovery programmes, employment guidance, help for people in prison or on probation, and support for people experiencing sexual exploitation and domestic abuse.
By focusing on their strengths, potential and opportunities, Changing Lives helps people overcome their challenges and live flourishing lives.
To find out more about Changing Lives, click here.