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Thursday, 25 June 2020

Stitching my frustration on protest flags

Flag by Beka Hannah.
It's hard to believe it was only the beginning of this year our country suffered disastrous bushfires with many lives lost, towns destroyed and others covered in thick smoke for months on end. And still, in Australia, and across the world, climate change is treated as a partisan political issue and not the emergency it is.

Like many who have protested, donated, made lifestyle changes, written letters and signed petitions over many, many years I was at a loss as to what else I could do. In sheer frustration I started stitching a protest flag – maybe as a kind of therapy. I posted it online and others joined in – sending me their angry missives and heartfelt pleas.
Flag by Tal Fitzpatrick.
And then Covid-19 arrived...
For a lot of the time since then, continuing with stitching and quilt making has seemed pretty frivolous and in the beginning I was too confused, uncertain and worried to be able to focus on the flags – but life has a funny way of pushing you on regardless.

Having lost my normal work in March, quilt making really is my only income at the moment and so the quilt making continues. Then Sydney Craft Week announced their theme for 2020 as 'Change Makers' and so I determined to try and get the protest flags shown – the application went in yesterday.
Flag by Kerry Martin.
A goal to work towards made me think seriously about how to construct a cohesive piece from the flags. I've decided to stitch the flag tops between a header piece and backing fabric and then each of these blocks will be stitched together. This way the flag still hangs free and the whole work will form a banner of sorts. All the fabric pieces are upcycled shirts and the backing will likely be an upcycled blanket.
climate protest flags
From top left to bottom right: Tara Glastonbury, Diana Vandeyar, Tara Glastonbury, Anne Foy, Pip Porter.
My hope is that I'll largely be making the banner on site during Craft Week and would like to have materials there for people to stitch their own protests to add to the final piece.

In the meantime, if you're based in Australia, you still have time to stitch a flag and send it to me. The template can be downloaded here. Once you're done, email me at the address at the base of the blog or DM me on Instagram and I'll let you know how to get it to me.

To be clear, I don't think either side of politics has covered itself in glory on this one and a lot of the flags reflect the anger present during the bushfires – how you reflect your wishes for climate change is up to you – the more flags, the better!
Flag by Linda Knight.

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