Published: 08/06/2018 13:00 - Updated: 08/06/2018 12:00

Flying the flag for equality for women

Written byVal Sweeney


The banner made by women in Inverness will be paraded through the streets of Edinburgh.

AN eye-catching banner made by a group of women in Inverness will take centre stage in a mass procession this weekend to celebrate the centenary of British women being given the right to vote.

Members of Highland Multicultural Friends joined forces with a Merkinch craft group to create the artwork which will be carried through the streets of Edinburgh.  

The parade, which takes place on Sunday, coincides with others in London, Cardiff and Belfast involving tens of thousands of women. 

The Inverness banner is one of just 100 which have been specially commissioned by 14-18 Now, the UK’s arts programme for the World War I centenary, in conjunction with public art producer, Artichoke.

It is intended to echo the suffrage movement, voicing women’s contemporary hopes and concerns.

The two groups involved in its creation were Common Threads – part of Highland Multicultural Friends – and Blazing Needles of Merkinch.

Common Threads is an informal friendship and support group for women from different cultural backgrounds who share a common interest in handiwork ranging from embroidery and patchwork to knitting and crochet.

It meets weekly at the Cameron Youth Centre in Planefield Road.

Blazing Needles, formed under the now defunct  Arts in Merkinch organisation, meets weekly at the Bike Shed in Grant Street.

Project co-ordinator Catherine MacNeil said the women were delighted with the completed artwork which was created with the help of a professional artist.

"They wanted to make it clear that they were women from the Highlands," she said.

"They also wanted it to show that while this is a celebration of women getting the vote there is still a long way to go."

Words such as equality, diversity and compassion feature on the banner.

"These are things which they feel we are still working towards – and not just for women," she said.

The project brought together a broad range of women,  some of whom came to the Highlands from countries where equality is still a dream rather than a reality.

"Every woman is different," Ms MacNeil said.

"They all brought something different to the project.

"They all had their own perspective which added to the dialogue because of their own life experiences."

She also felt it had enabled new links and friendships to be formed.

"I think the main thing they enjoyed was that it was a collaboration," she said.

"It was not just one group which meets regularly – it was two groups coming together.

"They enjoyed meeting new people from the other group.

"They also enjoyed the opportunity to work with a professional artist who helped them to develop new ideas. They found that really positive.

"They really liked the fact they were all able to have input in the design process right from the beginning to the final piece."

The artist allocated to work with the women was Heidi Soos.

Based in Inverness, the textile artist is behind Highland Fairy which specializes in creating one-off, customized, recycled vintage garments and accessories.

Sunday’s parades around the UK will see tens of thousands of women and girls walking  together wearing colours of either green, white or violet.

The intention is that the processions will be choreographed to form a living, moving suffragette flag.

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