Dispensing Wisdom was an innovative arts and heritage project, led by young women aged 13-25 in Islington working with professional artists, which used creative methods to research, interpret and share the changing history of healthcare for women and families over 100 years from 1913-2013.

Dispensing Wisdom was a partnership project between All Change, Manor Gardens and Islington Museum funded by Heritage Lottery – Young Roots


Dispensing Wisdom, launched on 12 July 2014.

A team of 6 young women aged 16-25, recruited from All Change projects worked with All Change artists Kat Francois, Marysa Dowling and Mila Sanders, and heritage professionals to research, interpret and share stories about the changing history of healthcare for women and families over a 100 year period from 1913-2013.

Inspired by the ‘School for Mothers’ at Manor Gardens – which celebrated its centenary in 2013 – the project explored the impact of changing attitudes and medical advances on women’s lives. Young women spoke to female family members, community members and healthcare professionals, and used archive resources from Manor Gardens, Islington Museum, The Foundling Museum and London Metropolitan Archive to learn about the stories and experiences of women across the generations and reinterpreted these for a public audience.

This team of young women recruited and involved other young women, including young parents, in creative arts workshops, which explored the stories they uncovered through their research. They received training in oral history recording and were supported and mentored throughout the project by All Change, Islington Museum and Manor Gardens. They created site specific public exhibitions and event in June 2015 at Manor Gardens and Platform, a celebration event for International Women’s Day in March 2016 and this blog and a publication – The Dispensary as a legacy of the project ensuring the wider public too, can learn from and enjoy these important stories.

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