Saturday, 22 October 2011

On the March

Our new project is to be based on the exhibition "On The March" by Ed Hall at the People's History Museum in Manchester. I visited the museum yesterday with my housemate, and was given permission to take photos of the banners on display.
I hadn't seen any of Hall's work prior to viewing the exhibition, so I wasn't quite sure what to expect. I was quite surprised by the style of the majority of the banners. A lot of them are quite colourful and non-aggressive , appropriate for peaceful protests, perhaps. As protest banners, a lot of the characteristics are standard for their purpose; ie. large scale, highly visible text, fairly simple large images; and the content is explicit and self-explanatory. The banners relating to protests against violence/death come across as more urgent statements, and the text and imagery seems louder/more angry (e.g. 'March Against the Brixton Bomb...' and 'Construction Safety Campaign').

My favourites of the banners were definitely the ones that used more painted imagery. The textile based work is effective and eye-catching, but not as edgy as the paintings. It seems it is hard to shake the sense that textiles is an essentially non-threatening, 'homely' medium. Painted banners connote a much more pro-active attitude, more akin to the painted slogan banners that can be seen most commonly during protests. The act of painting itself is much more aggressive and expressive than the steady, methodical methods of embroidering. The painting is not necessarily a masterpiece, but it works well to get the message of a protest across.

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