A Fencing Manual for Women (ongoing)

A Fencing Manual for Women: Instructions from the 18th Century…..is a large, complex, three-part hand-made epic work in progress, using photography, performance, a needle and epee.

A lost manual depicting women fencing from 1787 is found by The Revisionist Academy for the Preservation of Women’s Fighting Arts in 1975. This set of instructions is duly performed by Ida and continued in the future, by another preformance artist, Octavia Feels.

The development of this work was supported by a DYCP grant from Arts Council England and bursary from a-n as well as private sponsors. Contact to find out more – a fraction of the project is shown below.

Meet performance artist, Octavia Feels. She works with RAPWFA (est. 1975) which still exists (see below). She has accepted the task of re-presenting material from the original manual, written by Angela, to depict what can be learned, over two hundred years since it was first passed round women’s hands in private salons. Documented here with artist Jessa Fairbrother.

 Meet Ida. Research reveals Angela’s original manual was found in a box of books and ephemera, bought at a specialist auction by The Revisionist Academy for the Preservation of Women’s Fighting Arts (RAPWFA).est.1975. RAPWFA’s remit is to offer space for scholars in a quest to correct historical accounts of women engaged in combat activities.

Meet Angela – the well-known fencing Maestra of the 1780s. Her friends and patrons include Mary Wollstonecraft; her circle belongs mainly in London with occasional trips to Paris.