Lincoln art exhibition celebrates achievements of local women

Femmes of the Fens – an art exhibition celebrating inspiring women from across Lincolnshire, opened its doors to the public on Monday afternoon.

Artists including Mel Langton and Rosie Ablewhite, both involved in the design of Lincoln’s Baron statues last year, have created 12 pieces which will be auctioned to raise money for the West Lincolnshire Domestic Abuse Service (WLDAS).

Each piece celebrates the lives of several famous Lincolnshire women, such as comedian Jennifer Saunders, former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, and Paralympic skier Jade Etherington.

Rosie Ablewhite has several pieces of work displayed in the gallery. She said: “We’re here to educate local people about the women of Lincolnshire that we found inspirational, as female Lincolnshire artists”.

The West Lincolnshire Domestic Abuse Service (WLDAS), based in Gainsborough, provides support and assistance to people across the county who are experiencing domestic abuse.

Mel Langton, another artist involved in the exhibition, said: “They offer shelter for men, women and children who have been suffering from domestic abuse.”

“As we are doing a show about women, created by women, we thought it was a great idea.”

“But we also wanted to make sure people realise that it’s not just women the charity helps.”

In 2015 over 10,000 cases of domestic abuse were recognised by Lincolnshire police. However, it’s estimated only one quarter of cases of abuse are reported.

Karen Burgess is the Lead Child and Family worker at the WLDAS: “Here at the refuge, we support ladies and children who are fleeing domestic abuse. It’s a safe haven for them where they are able to start rebuilding their lives.”

The service is funded by the government, but funding only covers bare necessities.

“We find it difficult to have add-ons, find extras, like group work, cookery lessons, self-esteem lessons.”

“That’s how we want the money to be used – to give them nicer experiences, if you like.”

Lincolnshire County Council work closely with the WLDAS, and other domestic abuse charities, to support victims of abuse, and tackle the rising rates of cases.

Since the latest Domestic Abuse outreach services started in October 2013, the year-on-year amount of cases has increased from 501 to 2002.

Meanwhile, since April 2011, there have been nine deaths in Lincolnshire which met the criteria for a Domestic Homicide Review (DHR). Three of these were since April 2016.

The Lincolnshire County Council’s Domestic Abuse Manager addressed 42 schools within the county from October 2013 to March 2016, and has helped to set up over 22 healthy relationship workshops.

The exhibition is open to the public until Sunday November 13, and can be found in the Gallery at St Martin’s in Lincoln’s cultural quarter. More information can be found on their Facebook page, at http://www.facebook.com/FemmesOfTheFens.

This piece was featured in Lincoln’s student newspaper, The Linc: http://thelinc.co.uk/2016/11/new-art-exhibition-celebrates-achievements-of-lincolnshire-women/.

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