PROCESSIONS: Celebrating History and Reworking Creative Heritage.
Written by Jane Wells
Project Coordinator at Junction Arts
16 May 18

Junction Arts Banner showing Logo

Junction Arts are thrilled to have been invited to be a partner in PROCESSIONS*, an outdoor mass participation artwork to mark the centenary of the Representation of the People Act, which gave the first British women the right to vote.

Smile, it confuses your Enemy!
During April and May, women and girls from Bolsover District have been working with textile artist Karina Thompson to make a banner, echoing the practices of the women’s suffrage campaign, to celebrate the diverse voices of women and girls from different backgrounds. Participants from Creswell, Bolsover and Shirebrook have been working hard on the artwork and began by brainstorming ideas for the design. After throwing their ideas into the ring, they have now agreed the theme and chosen the battle cry: Smile, it confuses your enemy.

Everyone taking part has been given a letter to embellish as they choose. There are so many amazing embroidery techniques and our group have really gone to town, no shrinking violets here! Once complete, the letters will be appliquéd onto a background that has been digitally printed with the smiles of 100 women. All of the women selected for the banner are the choices of our participants and are women who have inspired or made an impact on their lives in some way or another. They are both household names and unknown to the wider public, are both living or deceased and local and international, all united in blazing a trail in one way or another.

The Voices of Bolsover Women
The workshop sessions have prompted sometimes fiery conversations about the changing lives and roles of women today. It’s been a privilege to work with such a diverse range of women with such informed and strong opinions.

As part of our on going monitoring we asked our participants 3 questions:

1.What does your vote mean to you?
2. What have you found in the workshop that is new or surprising?
3.How has working with the artist affected you?

Here are some of their answers:

Participant at Junction Arts PROCESSIONS workshop
  1. 1.My vote means a lot to me, I always vote with pride. I am proud that I live in a country that values women’s views. 

  2. 2.I am proud to be chosen to represent women in our area to thank the brave women who stood up for themselves and others in a very male dominated world. I have really enjoyed the workshops, chatting away to others who I would not have met other wise. 

  3. 3.Working with the artist I have found very inspirational and will definitely give quilting a go in the near future.
    Sheila from Creswell

Image of Participant at the PROCESSIONS Workshops, At Shirebrook Holy Trinity Church, May 2018.
Image of Participant at the PROCESSIONS Workshops, At Shirebrook Holy Trinity Church, May 2018.
  1. 1.Having the vote means I have the chance to express my opinion in elections and referendums.  It gives me a voice and recognition as part of our community.

  2. 2.The different views of other women are always good to hear.  I have learnt lots of new sewing tips and techniques, which is fun.  It is always difficult to hear how all women suffer injustice and discrimination still.

  3. 3.I have been interested to watch how Karina managed the project and the group – very skilfully done – not an easy task to bring so many thoughts and ideas together and make it work as one piece!
    Karen from Shirebrook

1.My vote means I get a voice in how things are run in the country.

2.Things that surprised me is how many different views there are for one project and how it can be interpreted.

3.Working with Karina has challenged my views on the world.
Louise from Bolsover

Processions participant, stitching her letter for the banner, May 2018.
Participants creating the PROCESSIONS banner, May 2018.

A stitch in time.
Using creativity to explore our heritage and celebrate the suffrage movement has been so enjoyable and textiles and the craft of sewing has been a particularly accessible medium through which to do this.

All of the artworks, and the women who made them will be coming together on the 10th June 2018 simultaneously in London, Belfast, Edinburgh and Cardiff to walk with our banners to mark this historic moment in a living, moving portrait of women in the 21st century.

We are proud that our banner will be exhibited across the country and locally for years to come and that the Procession in which we will be a part will attract local, national and perhaps international news coverage. We’ve quite literally been stitching our way through time and have come to realise that not only are we commemorating an historic event but are also making history!


*The project has been commissioned by 14-18 Now and produced by Artichoke, based on an idea by creative director Darrell Vydelingum. Please visit www.processions.co.uk for further information about the project.

Artichoke and 1418 NOW lock-up_Junction Arts
Photograph of Jane Well; Project Coordinator at Junction Arts

Jane has worked professionally in the arts and heritage sector for over 20 years, in Staffordshire, Merseyside and the North West of England. More recently Jane has been employed as a project coordinator with Junction Arts, delivering projects across Derbyshire and the wider East Midlands region.