Thousands process through Edinburgh
PROCESSIONS, produced by arts charity Artichoke and commissioned by 14-18 NOW, was a lively, positive and emotional celebration of the centenary of the first votes for women.
Women and girls from all walks of lif e came together in celebration to create this moving artwork, incl uding charitable organisations, community groups, families and individuals, with crowds of people cheering from the sidelines. As part of the processions, beautifully decorated banners were carried proudly through the streets painting a vivid picture of life for women across the UK today. These carried messages of commemoration for the women of 1918 and of hope for the work still be to done.
Among the banners and pennants were 100 specially commissioned artistic banners, created in workshops during the months preceding yesterday’s event. Artichoke worked with 100 UK organisations - stretching from Newlyn in Cornwall to Stornoway in the Outer Hebrides - in collaboration with female and female-identifying artists, with the artworks offering a poignant reflection on the diversity of women's’ experiences today. A wide range of views were represented including issues affecting women today, with a number of people travelling to Belfast from the Republic of Ireland following the referendum to repeal the 8th Amendment.
In Edinburgh participants travelled from far and wide across Scotland, with one group travelling almost 400 miles from Shetland to attend on the day. Another group from the North East who worked individually on sections of their banner, met for the very first time in Edinburgh and walked together underneath their finished creation. The procession was led by the Lord Provost of Edinburgh’s official piper Louise Marshall, paying homage to lone female piper Bessie Watson who led a procession along Princes Street in 1909.
“It was the most astonishing and moving day, an incredible experience. Tens of thousands of women and girls turned out in all their diversity across our four national capitals. They were there with complete unity of purpose, standing up and being present as part of this artwork. It’s easy to think that what the Suffragettes and Suffragists achieved is history, but what these 21 st century women have shown is that history continues to be made. It’s a reminder both of what it took to get where we are today and how far we still have to go. A huge thank you to all the amazing groups, artists and individuals who have spent the last few months crafting their beautiful banners, to our commissioners 14-18 NOW and to all our many supporters who have helped make this historic event possible.” - Helen Marriage, Director, Artichoke
"We applaud the tens of thousands of women and girls who filled the streets for PROCESSIONS - each made the event their own, with astonishing creativity and verve. The 100 artists who worked with 100 organisations to make the extraordinary handmade banners brought out so many diverse stories and voices from across the UK. It was wonderful to see so many young people taking part, alongside women of every generation. The artwork with Artichoke was a living portrait of women today that also recognised the huge contribution that those in the suffrage movement and women during the First World War made in paving the way for us all today.’ - Jenny Waldman, Director, 14-18 Now
Councillor Amy McNeese Mechan, Vice Culture and Communities Convener for the City of Edinburgh Council, was participating in the event. She said: “What an awesome sight to see thousands of women and girls in green, white and violet process through the heart of Edinburgh!
"Together, we were able to commemorate the incredible perseverance and bravery of those women who fought for the right to vote and marched through the city’s streets. It felt all the more poignant to walk along the same roads Scotland’s suffragettes marched down over 100 years ago, but with a bunch of 21st century women all with their own causes to keep fighting for, with their own unique messages emblazoned on their banners.
“I’m thrilled we at the Council were able to facilitate this, and so proud of the very many women and girls who came out in their droves to show their support.”