Women Who Dare – An Exhibition Activating Social Change In Brisbane

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Women Who Dare Women Who Dare Crochet Statement Earrings – Image supplied by Alice Nightingale

Discover the hidden history of Brisbane’s first change-makers in the thought-provoking new exhibition, Women Who Dare, and be inspired to make a difference.


For more than 160 years, the Sisters of Mercy have been at the forefront of social change, assisting the most vulnerable and at-risk members of society in Brisbane and Queensland across areas of education, healthcare and welfare.

But what’s less widely know is how these ordinary women overcame extraordinary challenges to bring about real change.

A new major exhibition, Women Who Dare, highlights the work of these women who drove fundamental change through often daring and unconventional methods.

This important social history exhibition and workshop programme is designed to activate thinking about social issues and how to create change. Within the exhibition ideas are stimulated through original works by Griffith University spatial design students.

GriffithDesignstudents LouisLim
Pledge badges made by Griffith University Design students. Image © Louis Lim

The six-month collaborative process involved Adderton curator Linda Phillips’ engagement of a group of Griffith University spatial design students, led by lecturer and ecological designer Dr Tanja Beer, resulting in the design and creation of three participatory elements for the Women Who Dare exhibition, which opened on 15 May.

The student contributions include a jacket covered with badges that highlight different social issues, a 3D map of Brisbane where visitors can add flags in areas where they are aware of everyday acts contributing to social change, and cards that invite people to share social issues that need addressing now for a better future.

“Visitors to the exhibition are moved by the practical and surprising ways the Sisters have helped generations of people who have been marginalised in society for different reasons,” Linda Phillips says.

GriffithDesignstudentsDrTanjaBeer
Designed by Griffith University Design students and worn by student Joyce Alberto. Image © Dr Tanja Beer

"We know so many in the community are increasingly concerned about inequity, climate change and other social issues where they see people in need, the Women Who Dare workshops provide a space to creatively explore those issues and concerns that many people share and see what we can all do to help."

Whether you want to literally wear your social concerns on your sleeve or participate in ideation workshops, there’s plenty of ways to make your voice heard.

Learn to make Crochet Statement Earrings with Alice Nightingale on Sunday 27 June and look out for Weaving Change, a workshop with Maryann Talia Pau in September to create your own breastplate weaving in your ideas for change.

WomenWhoDare Image LouisLim
Image © Louis Lim

Until October, you can also get involved in Dare For Change workshops, you’ll take a walk in others shoes and learn how to use human centred design thinking to create a prototype solution for a current social issue.

“We encourage people to be inspired by the Women Who Dare exhibition and join in the workshops and activities to feel empowered to speak out, create positive change and dare to make a real difference,” Ms Phillips says.

Women Who Dare Exhibition and Workshop Program runs until 3 October at Adderton: house & heart of mercy, 547 Ann Street, Brisbane City. Book your free visit on the Adderton website.

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