Different Stories

2022 saw the end of Different Stories, an Arts Council-funded project devised by the museum in partnership with Disability Arts Online. Working collaboratively with disabled and LGBTIQ+ artists, curators and researchers, we set out to explore some of the hidden narratives in the museum’s collection. 

Despite the fact that our collection is from the recent past, we know that there are hundreds of untold tales hidden in the objects and ephemera we care for.

Different Stories allowed us to conduct research into some of the prevailing themes, namely stories of LGBTIQ+ lives and creative partnerships, and the experiences of the disabled artists whose work is housed in our collection.

We collaborated with EJ Scott, fashion historian, and the curator of the Museum of Transology; Natasha Sutton-Williams, writer, composer, and actor and Jane Traies, historian and writer.

Disability Arts Online Podcast

To launch Different Stories, artist Natasha Sutton Williams and curator EJ Scott were featured on the Disability Arts Online podcast to chat about the project. They explore their early research on some of the hidden figures in the museum’s collection.

Listen to the episode here


Research Days

EJ Scott, Natasha Sutton Williams and Jane Traies undertook research visits throughout the project. The museum’s curatorial team shared objects from our collection, including textiles made by Bourne and Allen for the 1959 movie Ben-Hur, and photographs of Amy Sawyer’s plays.


LGBTIQ+ History Club

We teamed up with Queer in Brighton to host a special event exploring the lives of Hilary Bourne and her partner, Barbara Allen. The audience were treated to talks by EJ Scott and Jane Traies on their research to date, and textiles from the museum’s collection were put in display.

Watch a video of the day here

The Mysterious Barbara Allen

Writer and historian Jane Traies spent time researching the life of Barbara Allen, a figure we knew very little about.

Jane’s diligent research helped us understand more about this important craftswoman.

Read the blog post here


Making the Ancient Modern

Inspired by the life and work of Hilary Bourne, Barbara Allen and Amy Sawyer, Natasha Sutton-Williams created an illuminating audio drama, imagining a conversation between the three craftswomen.

Listen to the podcast and panel discussion held at the launch event here