Beautiful Banners

For the past few months I’ve been volunteering as a gallery assistant at the People’s History Museum in Manchester, and yesterday I had the chance to go on a tour of the museum’s ‘Beautiful Banners’. Banners are an important part of trade union and protest history and the museum has a huge collection, as well as a conservation studio that preserves old and fragile textiles. As I am fairly preoccupied with embroidery I was particularly drawn to some of the older, hand embroidered banners, like the Women’s Guild banner above. It’s so simple but totally beautiful and functional. Through the course of researching my dissertation I read a lot about the relationship between contemporary craft and politics but didn’t fully consider the history of techniques such as embroidery within the trade union movement, something I’m learning more and more about through the museum.