Two creatives have set about highlighting the role of women in pioneering electronic music – such as the iconic Doctor Who theme – and are visiting laundromats around the country to do it.
The Ironing Maidens, Patty Preece and Melania Jack, devised this experimental electronic arts project five years ago when they discovered many prominent females in the electronic music industry were omitted from their music education.
“We were quite inspired by the work of Daphne Oram who was the pioneer in electronic music technology from the ‘50s and ‘60s era,” Jack told the Illawarra Mercury.
“Daphne created the BBC radiophonic workshop which was then where all the fabulous soundtracks to BBC radio plays and Doctor Who was created … it was Delia Derbyshere who edited that soundtrack to what we hear today.”
Oram was also the first woman to design and construct an electronic musical instrument and the first woman to direct an electronic music studio.
The Maidens are touring laundromats around New South Wales with their own songs and sounds as well as holding workshops teaching people how to turn an iron into an instrument and the basics of creating electronic music.
Jack said retro products, like irons and sewing machines, are quite easy to pull apart by twisting a few screws before elements sourced from Jaycar Electronics are implanted to make it an instrument – something that will be touched on in the workshops.
The use of retro irons in their live show were symbolic, she said, as they “scream” 1950s housewife. On stage the pair have transformed several household items into various types of synthesises to create the sounds used in their songs.
“The recent census showed women are working five to 14 hours a week of unpaid domestic work in Australia and men are actually working less than five hours a week. Those statistics show we haven't really shifted a lot in the domestic sphere - some of our concepts and our songs kind of touch on that and why, and when is that going to change,” Jack said.
“Women’s work and women’s worth is not really being fully represented and equally acknowledged.”
The Ironing Maidens play City Central Laundry Services in Wollongong, Saturday 7:30pm. Their workshop is at Anchors Aweigh Studio in Wollongong, Saturday 10am to 1pm.
Tickets, performance and workshop information available at www.ironingmaidens.com.au