Uncertain Futures
+100 Women

Uncertain Futures
+100 Women

Art as research:
Understanding inequalities around work for women over 50 in Manchester

the Project

Our Research Report and documentary are here!

Uncertain Futures is an unique art and research collaborative work which aims to highlight and analyse the intersectional inequalities facing women over 50 around work. This includes inequalities relating to gender, age, race, disability, migration status and other statuses. The project was initially developed by artist Suzanne Lacy with an Advisory Group formed of women over 50 from Manchester’s diverse communities in association with Manchester Art Gallery and Manchester City Council’s Work and Skills Team. It is supported by a research team from the University of Manchester and Manchester Metropolitan University. The title is taken from the research consortium Uncertain Futures: Managing late-career transitions and extended working life led by Professor Sarah Vickerstaff.

This website has been created to merge the lived work experiences of women over 50 in Manchester with legal and social policymaking and age discrimination case law and to offer arts and research-based strategies for interdisciplinary collaboration. The aim of Uncertain Futures is to create real social change and effect social policy.

Read more about our PROJECT NARRATIVE here

Watch our research findings documentary here.

Read our research report here.

Our work has been highlighted in the UN Decade of Healthy Ageing report 2021-2023.

Want to know more?
Advisory Group


This timeline demonstrates how the project has unfolded and the achievements of the project to date. Please feel free to explore the links provided and enjoy some of our work.

Scroll horizontally to explore.

Launch of Stories of Women, Work and Uncertain Futures https://manchesterartgallery.org/event/stories-of-women-work-and-uncertain-futures/

Presentation at Health and Social Sciences Conference at the University of Manchester

Presentation at the CfAB Race and Equality Webinar

Presentation at the Centre for Ageing Better Network event

Presentation at the Go Science online event Network meeting

Presentation at the GMBAMEN Network event

Launch of the Uncertain Futures Research Findings Documentary https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lm95sT7fyhQ

Presentation at the GM Age Friendly Network meeting

Presentation by AG Member at the State of Ageing launch

Presentation at the Cost of Living event

Research Finding Event at Manchester Art Gallery as part of the ESRC Festival of Social Sciences. Read the report here:https://pure.manchester.ac.uk/ws/portalfiles/portal/281224925/Uncertain_Futures_Report_2023.pdf

Presentations at the Labour Party and Conservative Party Shadow Conferences led by Policy@Manchester on issues of economic inactivity.

Presentation at the Bangkok Creative Ageing Conference

Presentation to the National Centre for Art Research

Presentation on Pension Projections at the Go Science Futures Seminar

Presentation at the Motherwell Conference


Added to the UN Decade of Healthy Ageing Platform as an innovative research project! Read all about it here! https://www.decadeofhealthyageing.org/find-knowledge/innovation/research-projects


Confident Language at Work (Wed 16th Feb 11am-1pm) @ Manchester Art Gallery: Employment Support Workshop

MICRA Seminar: The Voluntary Contribution of Women over 50 in Manchester: Unpaid, Undervalued and unrecognised (Feb 3 @ 11am) with Research team


Menopause and work (Wed 23 March 11am-1pm) @ Manchester Art Gallery: Employment Support Workshop with Advisory Group Member Patricia Williams

Emerging themes from interviews presented at Ageing and Intersectionality seminar at the gallery with academic expert Professor Sarah Vickerstaff. Research Team submit evidence report to The Second State Pension Age Review.

100 women interviewees celebrated with a dinner at the gallery.

Research Team present at two events:
•Manchester Institute for Collaborative Research on Ageing (MICRA) on ageing and volunteering
•The Department of Work and Pensions Areas of Research seminar


Members of the research team participate in the Manchester Urban Ageing Research Group: Conversations on Urban Ageing and Structural Racism

Project profiled at the Labour and Art Gallery - LAG at the Labour Law Research Network Poland Annual Conference. See the contribution here.


In-depth thematic analysis of the 100 interviews begins by Research Team with two analysis days held in the Gallery.


Uncertain Futures accepted for a paper for The Gerontologist Journal of Ageing Research.


Second iteration of gallery installation opens

Uncertain Futures discussed at the Greater Manchester and Manchester BME Networks Event: Lived through Covid and living through the Cost of Living crisis - sharing community experiences on 28 September

The International Day of Older People, Gallery Event, Sat 8 Oct. Members of the Advisory Group stage conversations based on some of the interviews for the public to intentionally overhear. Performances are held 11, 12, 2 and 3 pm.


Winner of Manchester Culture Awards for the Promotion of Equality and Social Justice!

November and December: Further engagement sessions with Women's Voices, Burnage Buddies and Chit, Chat, Chai around issues raised in Uncertain Futures


From January - June the Advisory Group meets weekly to:
•Design an art installation as an interview booth
•Recruit a highly diverse group of 100 women to interview
•Formulate research questions and pilot with advisory group
•Create soundtrack for the installation
•Plan employment support sessions


Submission made to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Special Rapporteur on Older People and Human Rights. View it here.


Uncertain Futures exhibition opens at the gallery. Advisory Group meets in person for the first time for a lunch with Councillors.

Between June and September, researchers record 100 private interviews within the installation.


Advisory Group women Radio Africana podcast.
Listen to it here.

Advisory Group organise and conduct an an insightful conversation with Dr. Helima Begum CEO of the Runneymeade Trust

Between September 2021 and April 2022, the Advisory Group hosts informal Chai and Chat sessions on work experiences and Manchester City Council Work and Skills Team provide seven monthly Support Employment sessions. A press campaign is launched including billboards across the city which runs until December 2021.


Employment Support Seminar: Looking for Work (with Manchester City Council Work and Skills Team)


ESRC Festival of Social Science Event 2021: Uncertain Futures Working with Women to Create Change.

Suzanne Lacy live interview on BBC Radio 4 Front Row. You can listen here.

Employment Support Seminar: Changing Careers (with Manchester City Council Work and Skills Team)

Research Team share emerging findings at Economic and Social Research Council’s 2021 Festival of Social Sciences. Uncertain Futures joins one of four projects for Lacy’s What Kind of City? event series at the Whitworth


Employment Support Seminar: confident language at work (with Manchester City Council Work and Skills Team)


Dr. Elaine Dewhurst from University of Manchester joins team as co-researcher


Uncertain Futures exhibition launch postponed due to COVID-19. Advisory group begins development and monthly meetings. Zoom conversations on impact of COVID and how to combine activism and research in a participatory artwork continue until August 2020.


Begin recruitment for Advisory Group. This is completed in August 2020.


Advisory Group develop a Research Matrix


Advisory Group formed, meets weekly


Video: As a woman over 50, here’s what I know produced by MMU students. First public presentation at Economic and Social Research Council’s 2020 Festival of Social Sciences: Uncertain Futures Launch.


Uncertain Futures


Advisory group begins
development and
monthly meetings


Advisory Group
develop Matrix


Submission made to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Special Rapporteur on Older People and Human Rights


Artist Suzanne Lacy invited by gallery Director Alistair Hudson to reactivate earlier work about ageing. Lacy and Ruth Edson start to conceive a new project.


Begin consultation with Manchester ageing and community organisations to discover work inequalities.


Developing exhibition concept as a site for research. Dr. Sarah Campbell from Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) joins team as researcher.

Sep - Dec

Ten focus groups held across city wards yield questions and information.

Advisory Group

Contact Us

Do you have any questions, suggestions or want to get involved?
We’d love to hear from you!
For queries about the art-related aspects of the project, please contact Ruth Edson at Manchester Art Gallery: ruth.edson@manchester.gov.uk
For queries about the research-related aspects of the project, please contact Elaine Dewhurst, University of Manchester / Sarah Campbell, Manchester Metropolitan University: elaine.dewhurst@manchester.ac.uk / sarah.campbell@mmu.ac.uk