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The group of Hastings women with their banner on the Processions march in London

The group of Hastings women with their banner on the Processions march in London

Hastings women march in London – and on home ground

HOT’s Erica Smith was one of a group of 15 women who were nominated by other women in Hastings to work together and produce a banner commemorating the centenary of (some) women being given the right to vote. Last Sunday they took their banner to be part of the Processions march in London. If you missed out on that amazing event, there’s a second chance to see the banner and join in the Hastings Women’s March on Saturday 23 June. Read Erica’s report about the marches here.

Earlier this year I received an invitation from the Jerwood Gallery to take part in a banner-making project with a group of women from Hastings. The invitation said:

You have been nominated to take part in an exciting series of four creative workshops at Jerwood Gallery which will combine making and story sharing in order to celebrate women’s suffrage.
As a group, we will have the chance to reflect on what it means to be women today and some of the barriers we still face. The project will culminate in a procession through central London on June 10th, with thousands of other women from all over the country.
You have been nominated because someone thinks you are an inspirational woman!

I felt very honoured to have been nominated to be part of the group, and I loved the idea of working together on a project, sharing stories and getting to know other women from the town. There were 15 of us altogether – some were artists, crafters and writers, some teachers or people who work within the community as advocates, advisors and campaigners – and some were women who have set up amazing community projects.

Over the four sessions, we talked, designed, cut out and made a banner out of purple, white and green material – with flashes of shocking pink.

The process was truly collaborative – we talked and worked out our message together:
“MAKE NOISE, MAKE WAVES, MAKE CHANGE
HASTINGS WOMEN ROCK THE BOAT”

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Xaverine, an artist, sketched out the banner layout. As a graphic designer, I wanted to make sure the lettering was as big and readable as possible and I worked with Pea, Rose and Debbie to cut out the letters. Kirsten and Debbie were a dab hand with the scissors, cutting out the patchwork waves of material. Rose, the crafter in our midst went home after the first session and knitted a seagull who was named Muriel (after the suffragette Muriel Matters) and she was pinned to the final banner, squawking out our call to action. Everyone helped design, cut, pin, glue and sew until the banner was ready.

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On the train to London, we met women from the Tunbridge Wells and Sevenoaks branches of the Soroptimists – a society of women who fundraise to support projects in developing countries.

On Sunday 10 June, we met on the 9.50 train to Charing Cross and walked across London to the start of the Processions march at Marble Arch. There was no dress code, but we donned the colours of the suffragette movement – green, white and violet – and joined the mass procession, taking it in turns to carry our banner. I had no idea how big the march was going to be. It was amazing to be amongst so many women from all over the country. I was really proud of our banner, but it was wonderful to see the banners that other groups had produced and to talk to the women who walked alongside us. Many of them had come along as individuals – because they all wanted to pay their respects to our great grandmothers who had fought for our right to vote. It was very moving to be part of such a mass movement.

Our banner group was co-ordinated by local artist Janey Moffat on behalf of Artichoke. After the march, Janey said: “I felt so proud and emotional as we carried our banner alongside thousands of kindred spirits and like-minded women holding aloft a multitude of beautiful banners, placards and pennants. As we passed London’s landmarks including the Houses of Parliament and the new statue of Millicent Fawcett in Parliament Square, I was humbled and reminded of the strength, humour and unity that women everywhere display in the face of adversity. From stitching to speech making, women have the tenacity and focus to complete what the suffragettes started – by demanding their place in an equal society. This is a wave of determination that has not weakened through the generations that have succeeded the women’s suffrage movement and that will continue to gather steam through the ones to follow. Women will have equality in the generations to come; I do not doubt it.”

The Hastings Women's March sets off from Warrior Square at 11am on Saturday 23 June

The Hastings Women’s March sets off from Warrior Square at 11am on Saturday 23 June

If you missed the chance to march in London but would like to pay your respects to the women who campaigned so hard to ensure we have the right to vote, then come to Warrior Square between 10–11am on Saturday 23 June. A procession, including our banner, will set off at 11am along the seafront to arrive at St Mary in the Castle for an afternoon of songs, music, speeches and entertainment.

For more information, visit the Facebook page

Posted 06:46 Thursday, Jun 14, 2018 In: Campaigns

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