PROCESSIONS Banners made in Northern Ireland

PROCESSIONS was a mass participation public artwork that took place on 10 June 2018 in all four UK capitals, to celebrate 100 years of votes for women. 100 artists were commissioned to make 100 centenary banners, working with community organisations across the UK.

By Artichoke Trust

Produced by Artichoke and commissioned by 14-18 NOW: WW1 Centenary Art Commissions. PROCESSIONS' generous supporters thanked at the end of the story.

Aerial view of London's PROCESSIONS (June 10th, 2018)Artichoke Trust

PROCESSIONS

The women who came together on the streets 100 years ago made themselves visible with handmade flags, banners, pins and rosettes. The workshops focused on text and textiles, echoing the practices of the women’s suffrage campaign, and the banners made represent and celebrate the diverse voices of women and girls from different backgrounds.

Arts for All (2018-02/2018-05) by Carolyn MacDougallArtichoke Trust

Arts for All

Artist: Carolyn MacDougall

Contributors: Arts for All

Location: Belfast

Materials: mixed textiles, buttons

Arts for All

The group aimed to make their banner as inclusive as possible. On an Irish linen background, a border of hands holding voting ballots decorates the banner. This was created using embroidery, appliqué, printing and painting. Participants based their design on their own hands. 

Some of the hands are based on historical research undertaken in the initial stages of the project, whilst others have a personal attribute to them. One participant included a copy of a letter written from her great aunt to her mother on the day she was born. Others based their design on their culture, or on the idea of equality and what their vote means to them.  

ArtsEkta (2018-04/2018-05) by Emma Whitehead, Top Floor Art StudioArtichoke Trust

ArtsEkta

Artist: Emma Whitehead from Top Floor Art Studio in Belfast 
 
Contributors: Art Route Collective, developed by ArtsEkta

Location: Belfast

Materials: mixed textiles, buttons

ArtsEkta

Art Route Collective, developed by ArtsEkta, works with refugees and asylum seekers in Northern Ireland, with the aim of improving emotional health and social wellbeing. 

For PROCESSIONS, the groups came together to interpret what home means to them and their journey to Northern Ireland, as well as expressing their own cultural identity through the visual art work.    

Centre for Contemporary Art (2018-05) by Aioibheann GreenanArtichoke Trust

Centre for Contemporary Art

Artist: Aoibheann Greenan

Contributors: Members of The Rainbow Project at Centre for Contemporary Art, Derry~Londonderry

Location: Derry~Londonderry

Materials: mixed textiles, laminated card

Centre for Contemporary Art

This banner was created with participants from the Derry branch of The Rainbow Project, an organisation that promotes the health and wellbeing of lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender people and their families in Northern Ireland. 

Each of the four faces relates to the various experiences and struggles of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, and can be seen as a celebration of queer experience in Northern Ireland. 

Downs Art Centre (2018-04/2018-05) by Patricia DicksonArtichoke Trust

Down Arts Centre

Artist: Patricia Dickson

Contributors: Windmill Sewing Group, Saintfield, Co. Down 

Location: Downpatrick

Materials: mixed textiles

Down Arts Centre

Colourful, chain-shaped appliqué links the dates 1918 at the top and 2018 at the bottom of the banner. This chain motif is, at times, broken, representing the progress that has taken place during this time. 

The banner powerfully depicts progression towards women’s freedom to choose. The felt flowers contain the names of each group member, as well as a special person who inspired them, representing the importance of not forgetting the lives and contributions of earlier generations of women.

Golden Thread Gallery: ‘Everywoman’ (2018-04/2018-06) by Lesley CherryArtichoke Trust

Golden Thread Gallery - 'Everywoman'

Artist: Lesley Cherry 

Contributors: Kilcooley Women's Centre group, Bangor, County Down, at Golden Thread Gallery

Location: Belfast

Materials: printed vinyl

Golden Thread Gallery - 'Everywoman'

This banner, entitled ‘Everywoman’, was inspired by traditional banners, mainly from the Hibernian and Orange Order traditions in the North of Ireland. These are very patriarchal organisations, and the participants wanted to reclaim this style of banner for themselves. 

Orange Order banners traditionally depict William of Orange on a white horse. The group wanted to completely rethink this image, using collage and images of as many different types of women as they could.

Golden Thread Gallery - 'Everywoman'

Using old prints and contemporary magazines, the women created an image of the white horse, head bowed, with women cascading down around its side. Symbolic purple butterflies in the Suffragette colour frame the image, and the glamorous leopard backdrop symbolises a fighting cat spirit.

Golden Thread Gallery Choice by Lesley CherryArtichoke Trust

Golden Thread Gallery - 'Choice'

Artist: Lesley Cherry

Contributors: Kilcooley Women's Centre group, Bangor, County Down, and Hazel Cherry, at Golden Thread Gallery

Location: Belfast

Materials: mixed textiles

Golden Thread Gallery - 'Choice'

‘Choice’ is soberer in tone than the other banner by Golden Thread (number three on the floor plan). Hand knitted words highlight the choices, or lack of choices, for women, even today, 100 years after getting the partial vote.  This is significant in Northern Ireland, where it is still illegal to have an abortion, with women having to travel to the UK to seek advice and treatment.  

The change in the law in the Republic underlined Northern Ireland’s laws. The banner also highlights the equality of choice women have, from equal marriage, job recognition, pay scales and opportunity.

Institute for Conflict Research: The Recycling of Venus (2018-04/2018-06) by Rita DuffyArtichoke Trust

Institute for Conflict Research

Artist: Artist Rita Duffy RUA and photographer Mariusz Smiejek collaborated with the Belfast based Institute for Conflict for Conflict Research to work with women
 
Contributors: Institute for Conflict Research

Location: Belfast

Materials: mixed textiles, beads

Institute for Conflict Research

The Re-birth of Venus was created by 30 women from the Ards Peninsula in Northern Ireland working with the charity the Institute for Conflict Research.

It includes symbols and components of their responses to economic independence, employment, domesticity, sexual reproduction, pollution in the maritime and rural environment.

In so doing it plays with and disrupts a male  gaze and  interpretation of femininity, womanhood, beauty and age.

Institute for Conflict Research

It is dedicated to our late Venus, Laureen McGill, whose distinctive eyepatch hid the cancer from which she died shortly after leading out Northern Ireland’s PROCESSION in her wheelchair (though fully clothed on that occasion). 

Institute for Conflict Research

 

Millennium Court Arts Centre (2018-05) by Tonya McMullanArtichoke Trust

Millennium Court Arts Centre

Artist: Tonya McMullan

Contributors: Women of the World group at Millennium Court Arts Centre: Reattach, Agneiska, Noy, Licina, Kanta, Sadie, Isobel, Dure, Beba, Bena, Sakiko, Sinead

Location: Portadown

Materials: cotton, satin, pre worn clothing, wool

Millennium Court Arts Centre

Approached by Millennium Court Arts Centre (MCAC), the group eagerly took hold of the project. They discussed the different situations regarding the women's liberation movement in each of their respective home countries, and the vastly different global situations present today.

Millennium Court Arts Centre

Using colourful fabrics, personal clothing, embroidery, screen printing and appliqué, the banner draws out cultural and personal references, and symbols relevant to each individual in the group.  The umbrella represents protection but also isolation.   

National Museums, Northern Ireland (2018-05) by Ursula BurkeArtichoke Trust

National Museums NI

Artist: Ursula Burke 

Contributors: Produced by ‘Women in Stitches’, a cross community group of women from North and West Belfast. The women are part of a Good Relations peacebuilding programme run by Shankill Women's Centre. With National Museums Northern Ireland.

Location: Holywood

Materials: mixed textiles, cotton, linen, silk

National Museums NI

The main panel is executed in appliqué and embroidery, and was inspired by National Museums NI’s rich textile collections. 

The symbol of the hummingbird, which is the group’s identifying image, is used throughout the banner.

National Museums NI

The design is ripe with symbolism. On either side of the banner is a row of embroidered panels. Each panel was hand embroidered by the women in the group, and depicts a rose in various stages of bloom, reflecting the evolution of the Women's Movement.  

Prime Cuts Productions (2018-05/2018-06) by Bobbi Rai PurdyArtichoke Trust

Prime Cut Productions

Aritst: Bobbi Rai Purdy

Contributors: Falls Women’s Centre, Shankill Women’s Centre, Greenway Women’s Centre, Windsor Women’s Centre and Atlas Women’s Centre. With Prime Cut Productions

Location: Belfast

Materials: linen, mixed textiles

Prime Cut Productions

The banner is made from loose weave unbleached Belfast linen, reflecting the rich and vivid heritage of textiles in the city, which was also once known as Linenopolis. Belfast’s linen industry was world famous and was founded on the backbreaking work of the city’s women, known as ‘the Millies’.

Prime Cut Productions

Created over a four-month period by this cross-community group, the banner uses the colours of the Suffragettes and resonant motifs like the pansy and shamrock to reflect the history and character of Belfast, and the participants’ aspirations for the future.   

R Space Gallery (2018-04/2018-06) by Lucy TurnerArtichoke Trust

R-Space Gallery CIC

Artist: Lucy Turner

Contributors: R-Space Gallery CIC

Location: Lisburn

Materials: mixed textiles

R-Space Gallery CIC

The group started working on the process of screen printing on Irish linen. They had never experienced this process, so with hand cut stencils they worked on the purple stripe, playing with colour shapes such as hearts, flowers and stars. 

The banner is intended to represent the ‘girl child’ and the ‘voting woman’. Nobel Peace Prize winner, Malala, is a worthy contemporary figure to represent girls and young women today. Emmeline Pankhurst represents the voting woman. The banner is layered with colour and symbols, including roses and jasmine, the national flowers of England and Pakistan.

Reclaim the Agenda (2018-03/2018-06) by Diedre McKennaArtichoke Trust

Reclaim the Agenda

Artist: Deirdre McKenna

Contributors: Youth Action, Belfast Feminist Network, Trademark and Lawrence Street Workshops. With Reclaim the Agenda.

Location: Belfast

Materials: oil on canvas, linen, fine Irish wool from Flax Mills, Co. Londonderry 

Reclaim the Agenda

The banner was created through a series of workshops and conversations around women’s historic struggle for equality over many years spent campaigning, protesting, lobbying, organising public meetings, rallies and strikes, and even enduring prison sentences, to win the right to vote. 

Inspired by their ‘Suffragette sisters’, the group continues to protest and lobby for equality. They intend this banner to be a protest to communicate their desire for improved childcare, reproductive health rights, and marriage equality, and to reflect their energy and determination in campaigning. The group intend their banner to show clearly that they are not stopping until they get what they want.

The Braid Arts Centre (2018-06) by Rosalind LowryArtichoke Trust

The Braid

Artist: Rosalind Lowry

Contributors: Mid & East Antrim Inter Ethnic Forum and individual makers in the Borough. With The Braid.

Location: Ballymena 

Materials: mixed textiles

The Braid

This banner is based on old sepia photographs of Suffragettes. It honours the artists, the creators and the makers – whether a policy maker or a home maker. 

The group have included a range of symbols, such as the Holloway Broad Arrow prison clothing symbol, and flowers with various meanings, such as tulips for love. A range of symbols represent various art forms, from music, to dance, to weave and crafts.  

There are also symbols to represent the various cultures of the women who helped sew the banner. A limited palette is used, which represents the colour pallet of 1918. The banner is entirely hand-stitched, with hand stencils cut and stencilled over the cloth.

The Playhouse (2018-04/2018-06) by Helen QuigleyArtichoke Trust

The Playhouse

Artist: Helen Quigley 

Contributors: The Playhouse

Location: Derry~Londonderry

Materials: mixed textiles, photo transfer paper

The Playhouse

The group worked with three generations of women - grandmothers, mothers and young people - drawing from the skills of Derry’s now redundant shirt making past (Derry was once the largest producer of shirts in the world). 

The group worked with poet, Abbi Olivera, to conceive a slogan.‘Ulster Says No’ was a huge brand for Unionism in Northern Ireland, and this was transformed into ‘Ulster Says Now’ (for human rights). The ‘w’ of ‘Now’ was fashioned into two breasts. 

Finally, Dr Anne Crilly talked to the group about women’s rights and the Suffragette movement in Ireland.   

Top Floor Art / Rowallane Community Hub, (2018-03/2018-06) by Emma WhiteheadArtichoke Trust

Top Floor Art / Rowallane Community Hub

Artist: Emma Whitehead

Contributors: Top Floor Art Studio. Assisted by members of the public during the Get Creative Festival

Location: Saintfield

Materials: linen with mixed textiles, beads, buttons, maps, ribbon Linen, felt, buttons, silk

Top Floor Art / Rowallane Community Hub

The 'Rowallane Better Futures' banner was designed by members of the studio group and was very much a collaborative effort. Each member either made individual pieces or contributed to the central panel, which depicts local images. 

The main message, 'Women Crafting Better Futures', highlights the group's hopes for the future and their own creativity, with motifs representing women's contribution to education, medicine and science.

Top Floor Art / Rowallane Community Hub

The group is grateful to Roisin Scully for donating the beautiful linen for the panel; it is over one hundred years old and was produced in Belfast by her great grandfather. 

A range of techniques have been used: appliqué, knitting, embroidery, crochet, soft sculpture and beading. 

Arts for All Workshop, From the collection of: Artichoke Trust
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Credits: Story

PROCESSIONS was produced by Artichoke and commissioned by 14-18 NOW: WW1 Centenary Art Commissions, with support from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Arts Council England and the Department for DigitalCulture Media and Sport.

Creative Director: Darrell Vydelingum. R&D supported by Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation (UK Branch).

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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