See the striking artworks celebrating Sunderland's 'Rebel Women' including Steph Houghton, Jill Scott, Lauren Laverne, and Kate Adie

From sisters who saved countless Jewish lives from Nazi persecution to the city’s first female MP – striking new artworks are celebrating the Sunderland women who’ve made their mark on history.
Steph Houghton and Jill Scott, illustrated by Kathryn RobertsonSteph Houghton and Jill Scott, illustrated by Kathryn Robertson
Steph Houghton and Jill Scott, illustrated by Kathryn Robertson

A call was put out on social media for Sunderland's favourite inspirational women, with the results turned into specially-commissioned artworks and stories.

The Rebel Women of Sunderland display, which was commissioned by Sunderland Culture, was inspired by the popular children’s book Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls which has shone a light on the achievements of women around the world.

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Ten women were selected from past and present to represent the diversity of the achievements of the women of Sunderland and their likeness was recreated by Sunderland University graduate and illustrator Kathryn Robertson, and writer Jessica Andrews, whose debut novel Saltwater was published by Sceptre in June.

Sisters Ida and Louise CookSisters Ida and Louise Cook
Sisters Ida and Louise Cook

The Rebel Women of Sunderland selected are:

*Dr Marion Philips, first female MP in Sunderland

*Margaret Dryburgh, teacher and missionary

*Ida and Lousie Cook, activists who smuggled Jews out of Nazi Germany

Sunderland band KenickieSunderland band Kenickie
Sunderland band Kenickie

*Elizabeth Donnison, founder of the Donnison School

*Hope Winch, first head of the University’s pharmacy department

*Kenickie (Lauren Laverne, Marie Nixon and Emma Jackson), one of the most famous female-led bands to come from Sunderland

*Steph Houghton and Jill Scott, England footballers

Hope WinchHope Winch
Hope Winch

*Abbie Robinson, Team GB paraclimber

*Kate Adie, journalist and broadcaster

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*Emeli Sande, musician and University of Sunderland Chancellor

The project was also commissioned to mark the 25th birthday of Heritage Open Days.

Kate AdieKate Adie
Kate Adie

Laura Brewis, creative producer at Sunderland Culture, said: “The theme of Heritage Open Day is ‘People Power’ and we wanted to take this opportunity to celebrate the achievements of women from the city from a historical perspective, but also in the present. Many of these stories are unknown and we were very keen to highlight them.

“We were thrilled to get so many nominations and we know that this is just the start of the Rebel Women of Sunderland project - we hope to tell more stories in the future and encourage people to keep nominating.

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“That we were able to do this by commissioning young female creatives from the city is also really important, as we hope that hearing these stories will inspire the next generation of Rebel Women in the city.”

The first chance to see the Rebel Women of Sunderland illustrations and stories will be at Sunderland Culture’s Mini Manifestos family event on Saturday, September 14, from 11am-3pm, at Pop Recs Ltd on 170 High Street West.

Part of Heritage Open Days, the family event invites children to have a go at badge and placard-making whilst nominating their own inspirational women. There will also be an opportunity to hear the stories of Rebel Women of Sunderland, written by Jessica Andrews, read by a storyteller from Theatre Space North East.

Following the event, the project will be available to see at Pop Recs until September 22 for the duration of Heritage Open Days.

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This project is produced as part of Sunderland Culture’s Great Place programme, funded by Arts Council England and National Lottery Heritage Fund, and in partnership with Sunderland’s Heritage Action Zone and Open Heritage.