Sally Lees creates collection for Vote 100 exhibition


Sally Lees designs collection for Houses of Parliament

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Sally Lees has been commissioned by The Houses of Parliament to create new 'New Dawn' suffragette jewellery for the 2018 Vote 100 exhibition.

Sally Lees was commissioned back in 2016 by The Houses of Parliament to create a collection of jewellery to accompany Mary Branson’s ‘New Dawn’ light art installation installed in Westminster Hall which commemorated women’s suffrage.

Approached by The Houses of Parliament to write a proposal to create a collection of jewellery to accompany the launch of Mary Branson’s ‘New Dawn’ art work, the essence of the ranges needed to allow visitors to be able to take away a reminder of the experience with them. The pieces needed to be timeless so that visitors could continue to wear them for years to come.


The first step in research for the project the jeweller made a trip to visit the artist Mary Branson in a warehouse which housed her artworks in North London. Next, Lees went to see the Parliamentary scrolls housed in the Victoria Tower at Westminster, as these had inspired the original ‘New Dawn’ work in the first place.

The Brief

The brief given to Lees was to create a collection of jewellery that was connected to and echoed the essence of the artwork but that was also contemporary, wearable, and attractive but also saleable.

The collection had to look like it was an extension of the original artwork.

“Not exactly mimic it but to be something that the visitor could take away with them to remind them of the art installation. Pieces of jewellery that had longevity” said Lees.

The Design

Lees decided to also used the Parliamentary scrolls as her starting point because of the same shape and form which had inspired 'New Dawn'.

“The many circular glass disks that make up 'New Dawn' are vibrantly coloured when lit. Circles are a very pleasing shape and are used extensively in jewellery they are simple yet effective and in the case of the Parliamentary scrolls and 'New Dawn' hold great meaning.The materials I use in my jewellery making  are versatile. The aluminium I use could be dyed in the 

specified colours of the suffrage organisations banners and the polished surface mimics the light shining through the glass disks of 'New Dawn'. Aluminium is also incredibly light and perfect for making the multiple double sided disks that feature in the jewellery collection” explains Lees.

2018 marks the 100th anniversary of the Representation of the People Act 1918 (the exact anniversary was 6 February) and a series of other anniversaries which celebrate the emancipation of women through legislation including the 60th anniversary of the Life Peerages Act 1958, which allowed women to sit in the House of Lords for the first time, and the centenary of the Parliament (Qualification of Women) Act 1918, which permitted women 

over the age of 21 - the same age as for men - to stand for election as an MP. Universal suffrage was achieved some 10 years later.

Sally will be making a collection of new jewellery for the Vote 100 exhibition put on at Westminster Hall in 2018 to celebrate these anniversaries.

The ‘New Dawn’ collection including a newly designed ‘New Dawn’ necklace exclusive to this exhibition will be created by Sally. New colourways for the Suffragette pendant and drop earring will also be created.

A selection of the jewellery will also be available in the museum shop at Cartwright Hall Art Gallery’s Vote 100 exhibition in Bradford from April until September 2018. The original ‘New Dawn’ brooch will also be featured in the curated Vote 100 exhibition there too.

The Vote 100 exhibition can be seen at Westminster Hall and will run from June until September 2018. 


Rebecca van Rooijen


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