I love it when readers suggest and recommend people and projects for this blog. RG sent me an email suggesting I check out The Lightning Furies – which I did. I checked them out online and then contacted them. Anna replied and we ended up meeting for a coffee. Here is what transpired. Enjoy! Nina.
The Lightning Furies
The Lightning Furies is one of a number of projects created under the SNAPCAT umbrella by Perth duo – artists Renae Coles and Anna Dunnill. As Snapcat themselves describe, their work is “ambitious, cheeky and political and involves painting, sculpture, video and participatory performance.”
Snapcat has produced a number of interesting, topical and provocative works – and none more so than The Lightning Furies. This project came out of their researching into women and sport and then was further developed in response to other input (like community consultations) into the feminist bike gang The Lightning Furies.
In their own words, The Lightning Furies are “a bike gang of tough women and non-binary people, dedicated to a feminist mission of utopic bad-assery. Wearing denim vests, bikes adorned with pennants, the Furies ride en masse through urban streets, wind through laneways and hold up traffic. Aesthetically, the Lightning Furies fall somewhere in between an outlaw bikie gang, Girl Guides, and the Vuvelini (Mad Max: Fury Road). We have a Manifesto and an Oath. We have gang colours and patches. We are fierce and inventive and ready to smash the patriarchy with boots and glitter.”
Meeting The Lightning Furies
Following a reader recommendation, I contacted the The Lightning Furies and this weekend met up with one of the co-creators, Anna.
Over a coffee, it was very inspiring to hear the background, development, reasoning and evolution of how The Lightning Furies came to be – and what they do.
I was intrigued by this project for a variety of reasons. It has significant impacts as an arts project and for personal and community development, as well as creating a space for much needed further discussions about important concepts such as gender, access to public spaces, the Australian cycling culture/s, normative behaviours, social governance and civic participation.
Their website gives a broad overview of the monthly rides and few cool snapshots of what happens on the rides, but correspondingly, these rides as a rich platform to cast a light onto the underlying ideologies, practices and outcomes that this project is addressing.
During our conversation we spoke about many ideas. We covered bikie groups, girl gangs, females feeling safe to ride bikes on the road, public perception of women riders, feminism, being part of inclusive group, how to get more women riding bikes, The Lightning Furies being invited to perform at events, the role of patches and branding, sport and female participation, and how women do (or do not) ‘take up or use’ public space. It was a great conversation!
Sharing stories and riding bicycles for personal confidence
Particularly interesting for me to hear, were the other critical ’empowerment’ aspects that were built into the project – such as the ‘crafternoon’ sessions that happen before the rides. In these session, participants make their own customised patches, bike pennants and other decorations to adorn their outfits and bikes which encourage individualism, expression of self and celebrating vibrancy through colour and art.
Not only is it valuable to be physically creative and to have a space to express yourself, but also a safe place to share stories.
It was inspiring to hear how important the ‘making’ sessions are for participants to come together and have time to not just work on this projects – but also to connect as a group of women. Anna told a few stories that while making decorations, participants would open up and discuss their riding experience, their fears, new insights and later on, how much stronger and more confident they now felt after being on a Lightning Furies ride – and how they had been able to hold on the excitement and strength they had felt during the ride, and translate it into other areas of their lives to great effect. So great to hear.
I thoroughly enjoyed my meeting with Anna and came away feeling inspired and excited about the innovative and creative ways that people come up with to get more people on bikes and The Lightning Furies is just one example of this.
Source: The Lightning Furies Website
Source: The Lightning Furies Website
Future Furies Action
I will be staying in touch with Anna and have invited the The Lightning Furies to guest blog post – I am very keen to see what the future holds for this group.
Whether The Lightning Furies is your style or not, they are a wonderful example of a local grassroots collaboration driven by genuine passion, creativity and a strong commitment to positive social change.
The Lightning Furies is just one example of how two women have come together to address an issue that important to them – it presents the rest of us with a delicious challenge – what issue is important enough for us to get up off our butt and get some action and how would we go about doing it?