Windmill Girls, tableaux vivant and the Eagle Women’s Institute

Following the unveiling of the We Never Clothed exhibition at the Hebden Bridge Burlesque festival, the Windmill Girls exhibition is now available to go on the road.

My first post-Hebden Bridge Burlesque Festival exhibition was on the  Wednesday after HBBF. I took a scaled down version of the exhibition, a talk about the media representation of women of the Windmill and a fan dance demo to Eagle W.I. in Lincolnshire.

I love giving talks to branches of the W.I. I have been doing it at various branches for a couple of years now and always find it extremely rewarding. Incidentally the Women’s Institute is so much more than just jam making. It’s a fascinating movement which celebrated its centenary in 2015. The Eagle branch is a small but friendly, enthusiastic and engaged group and I thoroughly enjoyed my time with them. They were extremely kind and welcoming.

Following my brief talk, a couple of the ladies borrowed my ostrich feather fans and had a go at fan dancing for themselves (as they said, it’s actually harder to appear graceful and effortless than it looks) and inspired by stories of the Windmill’s nude tableau vivants, the ladies very gamely posed for a 30 second clothed tableau vivant, which one of the ladies asked me to film for posterity.

As I’ve mentioned in previous blogs, at the Windmill those who posed in these artistic, static scenes were actually expected to hold completely still for between 5 and 12 minutes. EXTREMELY hard work. As the ladies of Eagle W.I observed, even just 30 seconds of holding a pose, not wobbling and not giggling is no mean feat.

Overall we they appeared to have a fun time and I got some lovely feedback. I want to just say thank you to Marion and the other Eagle ladies for your hospitality and should you fancy sharing the video of the tableau vivant I would happily post it on here as it looked wonderful.

Should you like me to bring my stripped down exhibition and talk to you, please feel free to email me at Ellen.wright@dmu.ac.uk

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