Anti University Now Festival

Such a great afternoon at Hackney Museum. True all was in the lap of fate as I’d sent out invitations to women of a certain age and cultural experience to join in a chat about headscarf wearing in the 1950s. My unfunded project is all about women in the fifties who wore and women today who wear the triangular silk or woollen scarf to go about their business. I wasn’t absolutely sure whether women would pop by.  I had the biscuits anyway. And I was a part of a festival: Anti University

After ten minutes or less we were chatting away. What a lovely group of women we were today from Kidderminster, Keighley, ‘Oxton, Canning Town , Stroud Green, Hackney and Waltham Forest. We had our cuppa made for us and were on our way,  stressing that we were not in class, that we could walk about, take notes or not, keep quiet or present viewpoints off tangent even. Truly anti-structure, in the spirit of the Beat generation paying sixpence for learning in Rivington Place in 1968 when the first Anti University sprawled itself at the time of many troubles internationally and in Holborn’s LSE.

Today’s session was a myth-busting one.

The opening line was really, “Well, I never went to university   It  never entered  any  conversation when I was growing up.”

We  dealt with the word “natter” and “calling” being soley used about women talking. We talked of pulled teeth and wedding rings and many things. We strayed into hijab land and back again to shawls evolving into headscarves.

It was great fun and fruitful as we had personal memories which often never agreed with those of others. We had no way of measuring whether Northern women would have been more likely to have worn headscarves  than Southerners. We gave each other homework because the conversation had only just started.

My research which relies on true testaments of women’s youth coincides with my art exhibition in 2016 in Hackney and Haringey, Islington and Stratford and beyond.


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