During the last week of June 2019 Farnham Maltings will be flying the flag for human rights through the display of a bespoke quilt, as part of the nationwide event Fly the Flag.

Fly the Flag is a celebration of the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), and aims to raise awareness of human rights across the UK for generations to come. Gavin Stride, Director of Farnham Maltings, remarked,

Given the times we are in and the huge divisions that are apparent everywhere it feels particularly important to reflect on the basic rights that we all hold.

Included in the 30 UDHR articles is the freedom from torture, the right to free speech, education, and to enjoy the arts.

Ai Weiwei, the artist commissioned to design the flag, asked,

Can you name your human rights? Most of us were never taught them. We don’t know that each of us – every moment of every day – is invisibly protected by them.”

His design consists of a footprint made up of hundreds of white dots on a bright blue background, inspired by his examination of the refugee crisis. Ai states,

“It’s about human identity… that foot is about taking action.

Farnham Maltings are co-commissioners and from 24-30 June 2019 will be joining multiple arts organisations and human rights charities to fly this flag, both physically and online. Seven days of activity will take place marking the 70 years of the Declaration.

Farnham Maltings will be producing a bespoke quilted version of the flag, measuring 1.8m x 2.4m. The quilt is devised by one of Farnham’s leading quilting experts, Brigitte Gillespie from Farnham Quilters and will be collaboratively hand-made by groups of local makers.

Brigitte Gillespie has over 20 years’ experience in patchwork and quilting, teaching in both France and the UK. When asked why she wanted to lead this project, Brigitte responded,

“I jumped on the idea of helping our great cultural centre here in Farnham and sharing my passion for patchwork and quilting.”

The footprint on Farnham Maltings’ flag will be represented by 429 white hand-appliquéd circles, each circle representing each person’s individual freedom and human rights. For a space dedicated to arts and crafts a contemporary quilt to represent the flag seemed befitting. Farnham’s roots in craft run deep, from its earliest involvement with the pottery industry in the 16th century to the large number of local organisations that dedicate time, resources and creative energies to sustain craft as one of the great defining features of Farnham.

Some of the groups working on the project include the Quilters’ Guild groups, social craft community groups, visitors of thread… a festival of textiles, the craft group ‘Meet Me at the Maltings’ and knitting group ‘Nimble Fingers’, as well as the ‘Patchwork & Quilting Group’ and members of staff. In an effort to combat loneliness and isolation, our social community craft groups help connect local people from all backgrounds, stimulating conversation and friendship. The groups meet weekly in the foyer of the Maltings, an open space for the use of the community.

Article 27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states, “Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts”. The groups involved in Farnham Maltings’ quilted flag directly engage with Article 27 through encouraging everyone to enjoy arts and crafts and be a part of Farnham’s cultural community.

The Flag will be displayed in the entrance of Farnham Maltings from 24-30 June.

Farnham Maltings would like to thank The Eternal Maker in Chichester for the fabric and Lana from Bewitching Stitching for quilting our flag together.

The project is co-produced by Fuel, Amnesty International, Donmar Warehouse, Human Rights Watch, Liberty, the National Theatre, Sadler’s Wells and Tate.

 

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