Radicals volunteer Irene Vince tells us about a recent trip to the Peace Museum, Bradford…
Recently I took a trip to the Peace Museum in Bradford with Faye and Nick from MPA as well as Steph Heaps and Jackie Jones from Super Slow Way. We were going to look at their banner collection for suitable contributions for our upcoming banner exhibition which will feature as part of the British Textiles Biennial in October this year. The museum is on Piece Hall Yard in a fine old Victorian building near the Town Hall. We were enthusiastically greeted by the curator Charlotte Hall. After a quick tour of the museum, somewhere I fully intend to revisit as I barely had chance to take much in, she took us into the office and let us browse their digital catalogue of banners.
They have a really interesting and comprehensive collection of banners: elaborate community produced patchwork ones; sumptuous satin appliqued pictorial affairs; a beautiful intricate batik one; an enormous stark graphic one and very simple text based only ones. They ranged from something the Quilters’ and Embroiderers’ Guilds would be proud of, to those that had been boldly scrawled on a piece of fabric in the passion of the moment. All equally powerful in their own way.
While we were looking through the catalogue Charlotte had brought out a selection to show us in the flesh and we spent the next forty minutes unfurling and admiring them. I was reminded of a visit to a carpet shop in a Moroccan souk when one magical piece after another was rolled out before us, and like in the souk we wanted them all! The museum has very generously offered to loan any in their collection for the exhibition. I think it’s a suitably rich seam to mine.
Thalia Campbell was well represented among their collection. A prolific banner maker especially in the 80s when our society was undergoing radical change from the more egalitarian post war period. I do hope she agrees to us using some of her banners and indeed attends the exhibition.
I was tickled pink to see a corner of the museum was devoted to the anti-Trump demo I went on with other “Feminist Zealots” (a phrase coined by the local MP with distinctive Trumpian overtones) in Saltaire a couple of years ago. I use the phrase tickled pink as they had in their display a couple of examples of the home made pink pussy hats that many of the demonstrators were sporting, a distinctive and subtle example of protest apparel. They also reference Trump’s colourful language and an article I much lusted after but which no-one was prepared to part with.
We came away from our visit enthused and inspired and full of admiration at the skill and energy that goes into banner production.
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