A mass participation public artwork to celebrate 100 years of votes for women
A banner that formed part of a UK-wide project marking 100 years of women’s suffrage has returned to Dunbar Library and the group that created it.
The Dunbar Dementia Carers Support Group worked with artist Fiona Hermse, who is based in East Lothian, to create a banner that celebrated the fish wives and herring girls of Dunbar and the wider region. The completed work, along with more than 100 banners nationwide, was part of a participatory project called PROCESSIONS which saw women and girls marching with their banners in the four UK capital cities in 2018. The banner went on to be displayed in an exhibition in London last year, and has now finally returned to Dunbar.
It will go on permanent display at Dunbar Library from 9 January following a celebratory event at the Library for all the group members to mark its return.
Lorna Bunney, group co-ordinator of the Dunbar Dementia Carers Support Group said:
“We had so much fun sitting round our big table using our hands to sew, paint, stencil, and make pom-poms as well as the thrill of watching our banner take shape.
“Everyone so looked forward to the Friday morning sessions over the course of the project – the laughs and the stories shared were precious to all – happy memories for those carers whose loved ones were involved each week, but who are now no longer at home with them – a great experience to look back on and smile.
“What a great opportunity to have been a part of such a fantastic, UK-wide project – with the visit to the Scottish Parliament and being able to march with our beautiful banner.”
The banner was created using spray dye, silk painting, mono printing, embroidery and pompom techniques, and incorporates the first part of a quote by Frances Wright, 19th century Scottish abolitionist and feminist: “Equality is the soul of liberty; there is, in fact, no liberty without it.”
The project was supported by Luminate, Scotland’s creative ageing organisation. Director, Anne Gallacher said:
“We were thrilled to be invited by Artichoke to work with a community group to create a banner for the Scottish strand of PROCESSIONS back in 2018. We really enjoyed collaborating with the Dunbar Dementia Carers Support Group and Fiona Hermse, and the resulting banner is really striking.
“I am so pleased to see the banner come home to Dunbar Library, giving the local community the chance to see this beautiful artwork at last.”
Dunbar’s hard-working fish wives led extraordinary lives, many of them very emancipated for their time. In 1913, a group of Newhaven fish wives travelled 400 miles to join a deputation of working women led by Suffragette, Flora Drummond, at the House of Commons.
The reverse includes the well known poem The Herrin Trail by Rita Bradd, and the signatures of all those who worked on the final piece.
More than 100 hand-crafted banners were commissioned for PROCESSIONS, a mass-participation artwork that took place in June 2018, produced by Artichoke and commissioned by 14-18 NOW, based on an idea by Darrell Vydelingum. More information: https://www.artichoke.uk.com/project/women-making-history/