Ladies’ Room Pop-Up Park

Double deckers and bus laybys in Stevenson Square were swept aside this weekend; replaced by Astroturf, deckchairs and table tennis within a Protest Pop-up Park. For one day only the bus shelter was converted into a bar and Rhythm’s interactive placard wall, complete with soapbox and loud hailers.

The pop-up was created for the National Trust’s Ladies’ Room event on Saturday the 28 March, as part of the Radical Manchester Wonder Woman Festival. A series of carefully curated performances, films, discussions and presentations by prominent female figures took place in and around Stevenson Square, dedicated to Manchester’s historical radical women who shaped today’s society.

In the past Stevenson Square was the official meeting point for political marches, protests and gatherings in the city. The pop-up park paid tribute to notable suffragist and feminist protests within the square, celebrating the success of the Barmaid’s Revolt, and highlighting so-called ‘Outrages’ used in the Suffragettes’ Votes for Women campaign.

Pop-up park visitors had their say, taking to the soap box and announcing their issues through placards, slogan rosettes and chalk talk sprawled across the pavements. An interactive electronic placard wall bridged the ages displaying today’s issues on placards within a life-sized historical Stevenson Square rally scene. Many messages related to the potential use of the Square as we challenged people to consider how the square can express today’s society and reflect the Northern Quarter’s independent and quirky character. This formed the subject of the ‘Stevenson Square The Concept’ presentation by Stephen O’Malley of Civic Engineers in collaboration with Planit-IE’s Rose Barton and Camille Galland.