100 red parasols raised in celebration for International Women’s Day
Copyright: Archant 2018
Although the thought of women strolling with parasols by the seaside might evoke Victorian times, yesterday’s event on Cromer’s seafront could not have been more progressive.
Esplanade: A Procession for Women saw 100 women and girls carrying red parasols parade along the foreshore to mark International Women’s Day in a spirit of celebration, pride and unity.
The parade was organised by Dr Sarah Lowndes as part of an arts venture called Kunsthalle Cromer.
Dr Lowndes said: “We’re all gathering together to celebrate the International Women’s Day theme of ‘press for progress’. It’s about empowering women to come out and gather together and demonstrate their sisterhood.”
The parade also marked the centenary of some women - those who were householders over the age of 30 - getting the vote in Britain.
Dr Lowndes said she got the idea for the project after reading about a visit to Cromer by Elisabeth of Bavaria - also known as Sisi - who became Empress of Austria and Queen of Hungary when she married Franz Joseph I in 1854.
Dr Lowndes said: “She was a non-conformist who didn’t take well to court life; preferring instead to absent herself to go riding and hunting and to travel widely.
“When Elisabeth visited Cromer she was 50 years old, and deeply concerned for her safety due to the growing anarchist movement in Europe - perhaps she came to Cromer seeking some peace.
“She spent many long hours on the beach, reading and staring out to sea.”
But Elisabeth met a tragic fate - she was assassinated in Geneva, 10 years later.
Liz Bass, one of the participants, said she was also moved after hearing about Elisabeth’s visit to Cromer. She said: “When I read the story of who she was and what happened to her I was fascinated with it. It’s got very romantic connotations.”
Also taking part was Alison Howe, representing the Norwich-based group community interest company ArtatWork.
She said International Women’s Day was a reminder of how much things were changing.
She said: “In times past women were always the underdogs - doing the cooking, cleaning, looking after the children. But more and more, we’re getting our voices back and we’re being heard.”