MK Gallery and Bletchley Park join forces to investigate Women in War


British women played a vital role during World War Two taking on a variety of jobs which contributed greatly to the national war effort. It’s a fascinating period of our local and  national history.

On Wednesday 19 January, 1pm GMT, people will be able to join an online virtual talk to learn more about this historic shift in women’s lives. At this unique event Bletchley Park’s Research Volunteer, Karen Lewis, and MK Gallery’s Head of Exhibitions, Fay Blanchard will be investigating women’s roles during World War Two and how their portrayal in official artworks, highlighted in MK Gallery’s ‘Laura Knight’ exhibition, compared with reality. 

This virtual event will be hosted by Bletchley Park’s Research Historian, Dr David Kenyon.

Anthony Spira, Director MK Gallery said: “We are absolutely delighted to be working with Bletchley Park on this fantastic free virtual event. It is a brilliant opportunity for us to work together collectively and help raise the profile of the role women played in the war. We are blown away with the amount of people who have already signed up to this free event.”

Dr David Kenyon, Research Historian at Bletchley Park said: “At Bletchley Park we are very pleased to collaborate with MK Gallery on this event. It will shine a light on the social and cultural context in which the women of Bletchley Park worked, and how they, and wider women’s roles in World War Two continue to be perceived and remembered.”

During World War Two Bletchley Park was home to the Government Code & Cypher School (GC&CS) and was at the heart of Britain’s signals intelligence operations. Of the many thousands of individuals who worked for GC&CS at Bletchley Park or its Outstations during the war, an incredible 75% were women. But what roles did these women undertake? Karen Lewis will be answering this and drawing the similarities and differences between the reality of women’s roles during war and what official artworks portrayed

Fay Blanchard, Head of Exhibitions at MK Gallery will delve into how female artists captured the role of women in war through their artwork, examining works from famous artists like Laura Knight, Evelyn Dunbar and Doris Zinkeisen. Those interested in learning more about Laura Knight’s representation of women can visit MK Gallery’s Laura Knight, A Panoramic View which is the largest retrospective exhibition of her work, on until 20 February.

Those interested can register for the event at Once registered, a unique Zoom link to access the event will be sent to the
email address associated with their booking. The registered participant will also receive a reminder on the morning of the virtual talk.

Registration for the virtual talk will close on Wednesday 19 January at 12.00.

The event is free but both organisations welcome donations. Bletchley Park and MK Gallery are independent organisations and rely on visitor income and the generosity of supporters.

The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically impacted their resilience for the future. Events such as this collaboration, involve a lot of time and work behind the scenes to plan and
prepare. Any donations for the event to Bletchley Park will help safeguard and continue the work of Bletchley Park Trust to reflect the outstanding achievements of the Codebreakers.

MK Gallery is a charity. A donation to MK Gallery of any value helps the Gallery to continue staging world-class exhibitions and events, and its award-winning learning and community programmes.

The virtual talk will be recorded for training and monitoring purposes only. The recording will not be released following the event. No presentation slides or transcript will be shared after the talk.