Processions (2018)

An artist-led contribution to a mass artwork produced by Artichoke, commissioned by 14-18 NOW and delivered in partnership with Metal Culture Peterborough.

Kate Genever and I were amongst 100 women artists commissioned to create banners to mark 100 years since the first women were allowed to vote in the UK. Other artists invited to take part in this project included Claudette Johnson, Sarah Maple, Sadie Williams and Vivienne Westwood. The banners contributed to a mass artwork that took place on Sunday 10th June 2018, when tens of thousands of women, wearing scarves of green, white, and violet, took to the streets of the UK’s capitol cities to celebrate women’s suffrage. As Smith-Genever, Kate and I worked with women across the city of Peterborough, both in person and remotely, to create two banners. Contributions were made by Peterborough Women’s Institute, Soroptimist International, Iraq Academy, HMP Peterborough, Coffee Morning Sisters, Embroiderers Guild, and members of the public.

The statements on our banners are quotes taken from a series of letters written by project participants to the suffragettes and suffragists. These thanked our ancestors for their courage, reflected on progress made on women’s rights, and shared our future hopes and aspirations. Two of these letters were embroidered directly onto the background of our banners before we appliqued the quotes on top. Participants who attended weekly workshops also created personalised pennants, inspired by those made women campaigning for equality a century before. The pansies flanking the sides of the banners were predominantly contributions made by women who were unable to attend the in-person sessions but wanted to be part of the project.

As a group we all experienced strong feelings of solidarity when we paraded our banners through central London and couldn’t help but notice the powerful bonds we had forged through creating time and space to come together to stitch, talk and learn. Our banners were featured live on the BBC, in The Guardian and The Observer newspapers and on Google Arts and Culture. They were included in the exhibition ‘Women Making History’ at London Scottish House in 2021 and in the book of the same name.

Photo credit: Ruth Campbell-Ekins

You can view a slideshow of images from this project here.