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Patricia Francis

Art and Design and Arts and Humanities, Nottingham Trent University

Thesis title:

Close Up: A creative-critical intervention in women activists and activist documentary filmmaking

My thesis investigates the impact that social activism has on women’s lives and explores how insurgency in women fosters courage and transformation.  It analyses how womens’ activism extends beyond their cause and into their individual lives. My practice-led research will include the production of a film which will feature two groups of female activists: women insurgents in the 1984-5 miners’ strike, specifically the protest group ‘Women Against Pit Closures’ and a current movement against social injustice, ‘Black Lives Matter’. Both female-led organisations have been openly militant in their desire for change. Their causes have divided opinion and occupied a controversial position in the media. My thesis will examine the unintended and unpredicted consequences of women’s activism, the impact that this experience has had on the lives of miners’ wives and investigate how dissent is affecting women active in the Black Lives Matter movement now. What do these experiences have in common? To what extent do the activists (past and present) perceive themselves to share common ground, experientially, politically and, specifically, as women? Why does involvement in protest empower women to re-evaluate their role and aspirations and to take action in order to realise their potential, in and outside an activist context? It is important too to consider the ways in which the presence of social media and developments in technology have altered the organisation of protest for women.

The discourse relating to activism and insurgency usually has a masculine frame, firmly placing men in the foreground of the revolutionary picture. When women have been vociferous in their charge for change e.g.  the Ford sewing machinists’ strike (1968), the Women’s Liberation Movement from around 1970— and the Greenham Common Women’s Peace Camp, (1981) (which was an influence on Women Against Pit Closures), such movements have been positioned outside the frame as auxiliary or different. They have required recovery research to bring them into the foreground, or to situate them in contextual relation to activism that is discerned to be broader, itself a gendered assumption. Beeban Kidron’s article in the Guardian in 2013 about the Greenham Common protest supports this; ‘In 30-plus years since I sat at the yellow gate filming the heavy hand of the police and the inexplicable prejudice of the media against a group, whose major crime seemed to be the absence of men…

My research intends to refocus the image with the spotlight on women in the Midlands region.

Research Area

  • Art and Design and Arts and Humanities


Year: 2021

  • Roots/Routes - Filmmaker/director. A Univeristy of Nottingham and Nottingham Contemporary collaboration that reimagines the exploration of Black lives taking place in the local community. The voices of local Black academics and cultural creatives discuss the importance of Black thought, imagination and presence. https://www.nottinghamcontemporary.org/record/roots-routes/
  • Aljazeera Television - Inside Out - How can racisim against people of African descent be tackled? - Invited guest speaker on the half hour show. https://www.aljazeera.com/program/inside-story/2021/6/28/how-can-racism-be-ended-against-people-of-african-descent
  • The Conversation - published article: Black Lives Matter: how the UK movement struggled to be heard in the 2010s. https://theconversation.com/black-lives-matter-how-the-uk-movement-struggled-to-be-heard-in-the-2010s-161763
  • Expert Blog - Nottingham Trent University - Perfect Storm for a Black Revolution - https://bit.ly/3Azna71
  • The Art of Oppression screening and Q&A (Arts Council funded). At the intersection of womanhood and art my film follows three women who use their art as a means activism to 'speak' of their experiences of marginalisation and social injustice. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1SSpqUye434
Year: 2020
  • Expert Blog - Nottingham Trent University The Killing of George Floyd: A Powerful Lesson for Change. - https://bit.ly/2RaVZx6
  • Nottingham Trent University Research Festival - Can You Hear Her? Exploring the Sonority of the Black, British, Female Dissenting Voice. Paper delivered.

Year: 2019

  • BBC  - The Great Staycation - Matlock Bath - https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000bb7k
  • BBC Inside Out: Crossing Divides: Thirty-five years after the 1984-1985 miners' strike, two former pit men try to heal deep wounds after the dispute. - https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m0003449
  • BBC Sunday Politics: A recent report finds that many people across the East Midlands region are struggling due to local authority economic development policies. 

Year: 2017

Year: 2015

    Year: 2013


    Year 2021

    • Paper - The 8th Annual Leicester Human Right Arts and Film Festival. Visualising the Muted Effect of Dissenting Women's Voices. - https://hraffl.wordpress.com/
    • Paper Steve McQueen Symposium - "I Want the Burden." 14th Annual Contermporary Directors Symposium. ...And Some of Us are Silenced. - https://sussexcds.wordpress.com/2021/06/03/steve-mcqueen-i-want-the-burden/

    Year: 2018

    Year: 2017

    Year: 2016

    Year: 2015

    Public Engagement & Impact

    Year: 2022
    • Panel Host - Diaspora Screen Media Network - 'Diaspora Cinema and Media: Globalising the Local' - https://www.bcu.ac.uk/media/research/research-groups/creative-industries/research-projects/diaspora-screen-media-network/news/diaspora-cinema-and-media-globalising-the-local-conference
    • Guest Speaker - Generation Wiley UK (Publisher) - 'The Art of Oppression' - Viewing and discussion. 
    Year 2021
    • Guest panelist - New Art Exchange and Nottingham Trent University Adivasi Life and Folklore event that featured filmmaker Seral Murmu - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o_MQxVSFrck&t=3470s
    • Aljazeera Interview How can racism against people of African descent be tackled? Invited guest speaker on the ‘Inside Out’ programme to comment on the recent UN report - https://www.aljazeera.com/program/inside-story/2021/6/28/how-can-racism-be-ended-against-people-of-african-descent
    • Interview - Roots/Routes discussing a series of five films directed by me and the value of giving voice to local Black academics and creatives. https://nottstv.com/programme/ey-up-notts-monday-5th-july/
    • Talk and Q&A: Visualising Dissenting Women's Voices. Gender Research Group - Nottingham Trent University
    • Talk and Q&A: Revealing the Silenced: Documenting Dissenting Women's Voices - Nottingham Trent University

    Year: 2018

    Year: 2017

    • Are You Ready For This? CBBC 'My Life' series of documentaries
    • The Place Is Here: An exhibition tracing a number of wide ranging conversations between renowned black British artists, writers and thinkers in the 1980s. I launched the event and Chaired 'The Time is Now' panel discussion for the Nottingham Contemporary. http://www.nottinghamcontemporary.org/event/time-now-june-givanni
    • Journey To Justice Nottingham: Steering group member. The steering group curated the local content of the exhibition, devised the events and outreach programme, built and produced content for the website, and formulated new initiatives Journey to Justice: Nottingham could engage with. https://journeytojustice.nottingham.ac.uk/about/

    Year: 2016

    Year: 2015

    Year: 2014

    Year: 2013

    Other Research Interests

    Productions and Documentaries:

    BBC Sunday Politics 

    BBC Inside Out



    • British Association of Film, Television and Screen Studies.
    • Radical Film Network.