A group of Bridport women have collaborated in a nationwide project to celebrate 100 years since some women got the vote in 1918.
During the Now WW1 Centenary Art Commissions project, 100 banners were commissioned to be created by 100 different organisations 100 banners were commissioned to be created by 100 organisations for marches to be held in London, Cardiff, Edinburgh and Belfast. Women were encouraged to follow in the footsteps of their suffragette and suffragist ancestors. Bridport was one of those towns selected.
The Bridport Banner was made by members of Bridfem and women from the surrounding area, facilitated by visual artist Rosemary Edwards and Bridport Arts Centre. The banner celebrates women past, present and future through the power of women networking, and working together.
Based on previous struggles of women in the net industry in Bridport, The Wildcats of 1912 were the first women to strike and win. Arbitrated by Ada Newton, they kept their pay and became the first women to be unionised in the area. The central figure on the Banner is inspired by the painting of ‘The Spirit of Bridport’ surrounded by flax flowers made by the community to represent their interconnectiveness and strength in numbers to get things done. Famously, ‘Deeds not Words’.
Margie Barbour was involved with making the banner: ‘The word we decided to put on the banner – Networking – told the story of the whole experience for me. We felt connected to the women of Bridport who had made nets for hundreds of years, to the suffragettes who fought for the vote and then to the thousands of women of all ages and backgrounds who we marched within London. And big thanks to Huck Nets who gave us the green, white and violet nets whose initials represent the suffragettes’ cry – Give Women the Vote! ‘
The banner was also paraded at the Tolpuddle Festival and Bridport Carnival. When it returns from an exhibition next year it will be accepted in Bridport Museum’s collection to be kept for future generations.