Women’s countercultural creativity

Crafting change: understanding the radical threads of women’s creative industries at Glasgow Women’s Library.

Women experience complex relationships with the creative industries; they are makers, crafters, and curators. They are shapers of culture but are still largely eclipsed, and less well-paid, and the areas where they have traditionally led are often seen as the ‘lesser arts.’

Feminism has, for over half a century, grappled with what a counter-cultural, women-centred response to creativity and crafting might look like, and feminists have been steadily forging a fascinating, overlooked strand of creative industry.

Glasgow Women’s Library (GWL), the sole Accredited Museum devoted to women’s history in the UK, has a remarkable collection that illustrates the depth and breadth of women’s creative endeavours, from poster and T-shirt designs to jewellery and banner works. Focussing on the creative industries to be found in GWL’s collection of the landmark feminist magazine Spare Rib (1972-1993), GWL volunteer, researcher and avid knitter Becky Male has been mining the library’s collection and the pages of Spare Rib and blogging about the radicalism and contemporary relevance of women’s craft culture.

Becky will be in conversation with Library co-founder and RSE Fellow Dr Adele Patrick about feminism, sexuality, fashioning, crafting and countercultural creative industries in an RSE special hosted at Glasgow Women’s Library. Before the talk, there will be an opportunity to discover some of the gems from the GWL archive and museum collection.

About RSE investigates…

Every year, the Royal Society of Edinburgh explores a key topic through its ‘RSE investigates’ series, engaging community leaders and experts to tackle pivotal questions. This year, we investigate Scotland’s creative industries, examining their role as a catalyst for change and how they help to address contemporary challenges. As Scotland’s National Academy, we celebrate interdisciplinary expertise that fosters innovation across sectors like art, literature, technology, academia, and culture. This year’s series highlights the importance of supporting libraries, celebrating literary traditions, understanding architecture’s role in identity, and exploring Scotland’s impact on countercultural creativity.

See the full programme



Dr Adele Patrick FRSE

Co-founder, Glasgow Women’s Library

Dr Adele Patrick has been involved in growing and supporting the development of innovative arts and cultural projects for over 20 years. These are rooted in equality, research and community learning and teaching on gender and culture. Adele co-founded Glasgow Women’s Library in 1991 and is currently their Director, Creative Development, Delivery and Engagement. In addition to her leading role at Glasgow Women’s Library, she works as a coach, mentor, facilitator and writer, as a panellist and interviewer and in a wide range of other creative, transformative and change-making activities. Her current research focus is on Intersectional Feminist Leadership.
A person wearing glasses


Becky Male

Glasgow Women’s Library Volunteer

For the last 5 years, Becky has been exploring the century of knitting patterns held in the Glasgow Women’s Library museum collection and connecting them with wider trends in the history of knitting and women’s lives. She gave the talk ‘Life On and Off the Needle in the 20th Century’ about GWL’s patterns and contributed a garment to the University of Glasgow’s ‘Knit a Margaret Klein’ research project. Read some of her blogs here.
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Thursday April 11th, 2024 18:00-19:00


Glasgow Women's Library