Banner making at Bodnant Garden

Banner making workshop in the Old Mill at Bodnant Garden

What modern day issues are close to your heart? What causes would inspire you to make banner and take to the streets in peaceful protest?

The history of textile banners in Britain goes back hundreds of years. What began as emblems of guilds and trade societies became slogans of political solidarity in the age of industry as working people raised up their voices for better wages, employment rights and votes. But it was the suffragists who made protest banners an art form, turning their traditional ‘womanly’ skills into a powerful means of mass communication at rallies up and down the land. 

So what is the power of a banner? We explored this question in a community project, working with artist Alana Tyson. Over the summer 2018 we ran workshops for our staff, volunteers, visitors and for the local community, giving people chance to design and make their own.

Lives and experiences

Becky Hitchens, Bodnant Garden Visitor Experience Manager, said: “It’s been hugely enjoyable. People have enjoyed the crafting – as adults we don’t often get chance to sit down and do something creative – and also the conversation it’s sparked too. There have been some lively debates! The art of distilling your ideas into a simple picture or slogan makes you really think about what it is you are trying to say. In the process, many people have talked about their lives and experiences in a way we perhaps wouldn’t normally do in daily life.”

We also collaborated with members of North Wales Embroiderer’s Guild who produced banners and suffrage inspired artworks.

All of the banners were displayed in the garden during the ‘Unbind the Wing’ autumn programme of events, representing a cross-section of Britain 2018. 

Banner making at Bodnant Garden with artist Alana Tyson
Banner making at Bodnant Garden with artist Alana Tyson
Banner making at Bodnant Garden with artist Alana Tyson