Textile banners, along with other visual artefacts, played a key role in the campaign for women’s suffrage.
Under the guidance of Mary Lowndes and Sylvia Pankhurst, the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) used design and colour to create a clear identity for the suffragettes’ campaign.
‘A banner is a thing to float in the wind, to flicker in the breeze, to flirt its colours for your pleasure…’ Mary Lowndes ‘Banners and Banner-Making’ 1909.
Suffragettes were seen by some as unfeminine. By making banners that incorporated traditional skills such as embroidery, the suffragettes demonstrated that women who demanded the vote were not bereft of ‘feminine accomplishments’. The medium was the message.
Textiles have continued to be used within social and political activism. This presentation will discuss the use of textiles by the suffragettes as well as more contemporary examples.
There will also be a consideration of the term ‘essential femininity’ in relation to craft and art, and an investigation of the use of craft processes within Fine Art practice. This is a topic which has been hotly debated for years, but is particularly pertinent given the location of this talk.