Disbanners – creative activism with Full Circle Arts

bannerAs part of Full Circle Arts creative activism season, I attended their Disbanners project, which is happening in collaboration with the People’s History Museum in Manchester, and designer Ed Hall.

Disbanners is a fantastic project working with disabled people across the North West to design large scale banners addressing issues of disability and austerity. The project is a great way to give a voice to those most affected by the cuts to services and benefits that help Disabled and Deaf people to have independence.

As Chris Hammond, Chief executive of Full Circle arts is quoted as saying: “It’s not my impairments that make me vulnerable, it’s this Government

Designer Ed Hall lead the workshop at the People’s History Museum on Thursday. Hall is Britain’s leading designer of marching banners for trade unions and other campaign groups, and is, by his own admission, an odd sort of career into which he stumbled more than 30 years ago (by training, he is an architect). He has worked closely with Turner prize-winning artist Jeremy Deller to create banners for his show ‘Folk Archive’. Thanks to this on-going collaboration Hall ‘s work has been exhibited worldwide, including being shown at the Venice Biennale.

During Thursdays workshop, the group were able to visit the Textile Conservation Room at the People’s History Museum. It was a rare treat to have a closer look behind the scenes and see the expert conservators at work. Their main role is to clean, support and help banners survive through a variety of intricate methods in an environmentally controlled studio.

Since industrialisation, banners have been a popular way of carrying a symbol, logo, slogan or any custom message. The word banner is derived from a Latin name “bandum”, a cloth used to make flags, and they have made a revival in modern times. From the Swing Riots of the 1840s to the Goth movement of the 2000s, banners often carry pictures of hope, love, change and the value of sticking together. It was a pleasure to work with Hall, and learn more about the ancient craft of banner making.

tagsLots of group discussion took place about the regressive effects welfare cuts will have on disabled people, with prominent disabled activists warning of disabled people falling into destitution and being subjected to humiliation.   In an earlier blog, I talk about the benefit system in Britain and the frightening prospect of returning to an era of handouts and poverty: “It wasn’t until the early 1970s that state funding was also given to help disabled people with the extra cost they incurred because of their impairment. These new benefits revolutionised the way disabled people participated and contributed to society”

The final outcome of the Disbanners project will be a large-scale banner designed by the group and put together by Ed Hall. The focus of the banner will definitely be around disabled people coming together and fighting back. This will be a useful resource for disabled activists and lobbying groups such as Disabled People Against the Cuts. As the American actor Morgan Freeman states: “Attacking disabled people is the lowest display of power I can think of.”

As the American actor Morgan Freeman states: “Attacking disabled people is the lowest display of power I can think of.”

 

 

 

From the Swing Riots of the 1840s to the Goth movement of the 2000s, banners often carry pictures of hope, love, change and the value of sticking together. It was a pleasure to work with Hall, and learn more about the ancient craft of banner making.

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