Making the Ancient Modern

After 2 incredible years we wrapped up Different Stories at the end of 2022. The project was devised by the museum in partnership with Disability Arts Online, working collaboratively with D/deaf, disabled and LGBTQ people to explore hidden narratives in the museum’s collection. 

As part of this project, playwright Natasha Sutton-Williams was commissioned to research Barbara Allen (1903-1972), Hilary Bourne (1909-2004) and Amy Sawyer (1863-1945). The three women, although from different generations, were each pivotal to the arts and crafts movement but their stories have been largely lost to history.

Inspired by the life and work of Hilary Bourne, Barbara Allen and Amy Sawyer, The Women Weavers of Ditchling recovers the interlinked stories of these three professional artists. An illuminating audio drama written and directed by Sutton-Williams, the play imagines a conversation between the three craftswomen, each of whom played a significant role in the formation of Ditchling as a creative hub in the early 20th century.

Making the Ancient Modern: The Women Weavers of Ditchling written and directed by Natasha Sutton Williams, with an introduction by Steph Fuller, recorded at an event held at Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft in November 2022.

Disability Arts Online · 1) Making the Ancient Modern: The Women Weavers of Ditchling with Introduction by Steph Fuller

Disability Arts Online · 2) Making the Ancient Modern, Panel Discussion with Natasha Sutton-Williams

Disability Arts Online · 3) Making the Ancient Modern: The Women Weavers of Ditchling, Talk by Researcher Jane Traies

Hilary Bourne is performed by Louisa Holloway
Barbara Allen is performed by Phoebe Ladenburg
Amy Sawyer is performed by Kristin Milward
The sound design is by Ian Rattray

Read the Different Stories blog to find out about Natasha Sutton Williams and EJ Scott, the lead artists on this project. You can also listen to them chat about the project on the Disability and … Podcast published in July 2021.

This audio drama has been generously supported by Arts Council England.

Image: Bourne and Allen’s Royal Festival Hall Sample (1951) ⁠