In an exhibition entitled ‘Fabric of Society’, my work was most recently displayed at the People’s History Museum in Manchester.

The initial inspiration for this exhibition stems from my lifelong interest in, and passion for, the representation of human beings in the contexts of work, culture and politics; how they are viewed and how they view themselves.

I have made a series of works which will deal with various topics prompted by this motivation, including the class struggle, imperialism, modern political choices (or the lack of them), whilst using humour and irony to question ideas about expectations regarding gender roles, working life, history and culture and other aspects of our social and personal lives.

The People’s History Museum has been an ideal reference point; I have been utilising their archives and collections to fuel my inspiration further and ultimately to exhibit the results of these investigations and interpretations. In particular, I am inspired by their collection of Trades Union banners, their history, design and construction. The use of textiles to present messages of protest through history has been powerful and enduring, from the intricate and colourful banners of the previous centuries to the hastily daubed instant statement or woven badge.

The concept of protest underlies all the investigations and resulting imagery in the exhibition. My criteria in choosing the slogans and protest images in my work were initially based around the discovery of early Trades Union banners. However, as my research continued, I found countless slogans, motifs and illustrations which have become instantly recognisable as symbols of protest and which proliferate during times of economic hardship, social injustice and desperate need. They provide their own concise commentary on our shared social history.

Nowadays, we utilise the convenience of social media, instant access to, and redistribution of news in sound bites and photographs, via the myriad of gadgets which enable this instant and ever-changing communication network. However, when people require a high-impact visual show of protest, they still often employ the traditional public demonstration complete with signs, badges, flags and banners displaying their pithy and incisive slogans.

I hope that the visual effect of the exhibition will evoke not only recognition of the broad and far-reaching purposes of protest, but also awareness of the sense of pride in the craftsmanship of the protest message, evident in the traditional union banners. The craftspeople of the past took the task of presenting their message seriously, with great attention to detail, colour and clarity. My aim in this exhibition is to deliver a hard-hitting modern political message using the historical and creative medium of textiles in banners, badges and insignia, whilst maintaining the artisanal aesthetic appearance in the use of font, fabric choice, composition and construction.

My professional development as a textile artist has been enhanced considerably by this opportunity to create work based around such ideology. It follows on creatively from my previous exhibited work on domestic gender roles, social groups and fraternities e.g. criminal gangs who use tattoos as a language of protest and unity, perceptions of individuals or groups based on their appearance, dress and culture.