Cycling, sewing and suffragette storytelling through inventive women’s cyclewear
Cycling in everyday dress could be dangerous – it blew near the wheels and caught in the chain
I allude to the death of Miss Carr, near Colwith Force. The evidence of her friend who rode just behind her, says that “Miss Carr began the descent with her feet in the rests, but finding the hill become much steeper, she strove to regain her pedals and failed”. I think she failed because she could not see the pedals, as the flapping skirt hid them from her view, and she had to fumble for them. Could she have taken but a momentary glance at their position, she would have had a good chance to save her life. The poor girl lingered a week - Daily Press, Sept 20, 1896.
But it wasn’t always safer to ‘rationally dress’ for cycling, as onlookers could hurl abuse and stones!
It’s awful – one wants nerves of iron… The shouts and yells of the children deafen one, the women shriek with laughter or groan and hiss and all sorts of remarks are shouted at one, occasionally some not fit for publication. One needs to be very brave to stand all that. It makes one feel mad and ones ideas of humanity at large sink to a very low standard - Kitty J Buckman to Uriah, August 23, 1897.
Cycle wear did not exist at this time, so women had to make it themselves
These women didn’t just design new cycle wear. They also patented their inventions…
Victorian wearable technology
Inspired by the ingenious patents, and struck by the absence of these women's inventions in our cycling history, we have (hand) made a collection of Victorian Women's Convertible Cycling Costumes and use them to tell stories, run sewing workshops, write papers and host events and exhibitions.
We are in the process of finalising 10 open source down loadable patterns inspired by the patents lodged by inventive women 1896-1899. More soon!
At Goldsmiths, we practise Sociology with a variety of things, from buildings to music and social media. But how do we do this? Rebecca Coleman and Noortje Marres organised an […]
Finally, this article is out and it is available open access. Jungnickel, K. “One needs to be very brave to stand all that”: Cycling, rational dress and the struggle for citizenship […]
I had a great night at the ‘Wearable Technologies’ late at the Science Museum. Huge audiences turned out – twice – to see the talk and try on the clothes. Many […]
Alice Louisa Bygrave’s patent illustrations for her convertible cycling skirt: This is our version inspired by her design:
I helped to launch the new Public Engagement initiative at Goldsmiths on Monday which aims to help researchers connect with the public with their work. Programme 3pm: Welcome from Jane Powell, […]
I was invited to speak at the Digital Cultures Research Lab’s (DCRL) conference in Luneberg. 19-21st May. It was called ‘Technological Conditions of Interventions: History, epistemology and dramaturgy. I turned […]
Dr Kat JungnickelProject lead
Kat is a sociologist, cyclist and maker. She is a lecturer in the Sociology Dept, Goldsmiths, where her research explores mobility cultures, especially cycling, DiY/DiT (Do-It-Together) and hacker tech communities and inventive methods. This project builds on over a decade of practice, a PhD (Goldsmiths), Post-doc (UEL) and lots of cycling (racing, touring, pennies, BMX).
Rachel PimmResearch Assistant
Rachel is an artist and designer. Her work explores the model home, the replica and ‘naturalness’ in the built environment, in a period where office, retail, domestic and leisure spaces collapse into one another. She brings her impressive organisational, sewing, designing, writing and creative skills to the project.
Alice is an artist and co-director of Proboscis. Her work includes works on paper video and fine art textiles and fabrics. She worked with the team to visually represent stories of the inventive women and the collaborative process of working with the research group and interpreting their archival findings. This work is digitally printed onto silk linings of the cycling costumes.
Britt works in photography, video, film and performance. Her work refers to or often takes the format of the moving image, both in its technical and conceptual form, exploring ideas around language, interpretation and the potential for discrepancies, ruptures, deviations and (mis-) communication. She has been documenting the interdisciplinary collaborations in the project.
Charlotte is a portrait and editorial photographer based in London working with a wide range of commercial clients, musicians and artists. She is also a volunteer professional for the Media Trust, shooting for charities and NGOs. When not behind a camera, she can sometimes be found riding her penny farthing round the streets of London.