The banner explores the heritage of Broomhill and the surrounding area, taking inspiration from the landscape that surrounds it, key historical markers such as WWII, and the work lives of the Broomhill Residents. Yellow and purple fabrics are used at the top to symbolise the heather that spreads itself over the hills at the top of Greenock. The bell motif makes reference to the Drumfrochar Road flats – soon to be demolished – with their iconic bell-shaped towers, a motif also explored within the Wednesday Art Kid’s Club at the Broomhill Art Flat. As the banner meanders down, roughly following the path of The Shaws Waterfalls, many of the key industries in Broomhill are referenced including the Merino Mills with woollen patches and knitted woollen squares, and the Tate and Lyle factory with brown and white beads to look like sugar. The 7 month long sit-in of 1981 at the Lee Jeans factory – where many women from The Broomy worked – was marked with a reference to the 240 fish suppers that were bought on the first night to feed the workers-cum-protesters. The shades of blue fabric were picked to represent the light blue overalls of the Lee Jeans factory workers as well as the Wrens, the women who worked in the shipyards during WWII. The Wrens can also be seen in the 2 image transfers fixing the netting using to trap the German submarines, and real netting has been used to reference this job, while the number 1865 marks the amount of women who worked in the shipyards during the war in Greenock. Maps of the area have been copied and used to decorate the banner, as well as illustrations of the high flats in Broomhill, and fabrics with geometric designs and patterns which we felt looked like the cranes rising up from the Clyde at the bottom of Greenock.
In August, RIG Arts facilitated 6 weeks of workshops culminating in a textiles banner as part of our Recycle Upcycling project at the Broomhill Art Flat. We worked worked with artists Geraldine Russell from Rags to Riches at the Govanhill Baths, Glasgow to design and produce the textile banner using recycled fabrics.
With the Recycle Upycle project, we are looking to find ways we can all save money by choosing not to buy new things but recycling and upcycling our old furniture and clothes, creating not only useful products, but unique ones to our own tastes.
However, recycling and upcycling also has another benefit, reducing our carbon footprints.
But, what is a carbon footprint?
A carbon footprint is the amount of greenhouse gasses produced by each person, usually measured in a year. Lots of gasses count as greenhouse gasses, but our carbon footprint is usually referred to and measured by how much carbon dioxide (CO2) those other gases are equivalent to (CO2e).
The term ‘greenhouse gasses’ refers to all of the gasses – including CO2 – which contribute to the ‘greenhouse effect’. This in turn, describes the process by which radiation and heat energy are trapped inside the earth’s atmosphere. Greenhouse gases lead to climate change and global warming.
When we think of producing greenhouse gasses, or measuring our CO2e production, we usually think about the petrol used to power our cars, the gas used to cook our food, or the energy used to make the electricity to power our T.V. However, greenhouse gases are made in the production of so many things we use in our daily life, things we don’t even think about.
The textile industry, for example, is the one of the biggest sources of greenhouse gasses on Earth. The industry itself is huge – just think of how many clothes you have worn only once, or the amount of fabric you have in your house in terms of curtains, sofa covers, carpets and bed sheets. To make and deliver all of these fabrics requites a lot of energy which produces greenhouse gasses– growing the natural fibres or making man-made ones, powering the machines that turn the fibres into threads and fabrics, and then delivering those finished items across the world and into our shops.
So, in being conscious about how often we buy new clothes, making choices to shop in charity shops or do clothes swaps with friends, mending or altering old clothes which perhaps only need a button sewed on or a seam taken in our let out, or using unwanted fabrics to make art and craft, as opposed to buying new materials can all help to reduce our individual and collective carbon footprints.
For our textiles banner, we are using 100% donated used fabrics and are focusing on the heritage of the Broomhill area.
We had a participant who had grown up in Broomhill and the surrounding area and has returned after some time spent in Glasgow. He had a great wealth of knowledge about the industries and buildings that used to populate Broomhill, which will definitely feed into the design for the banner. All of the other participants also brought their knowledge and experiences of the area, as well as ideas for composition and techniques to the sessions.
It was also thought that the banner would work well in a portrait format, echoing the sense of height in Broomhill and Greenock given by the rising hills and high flats. This idea was inspired by Matisse’s Beasts of the Sea, 1950, in which he arranged his composition vertically in order to suggest the depths of the sea.
The textile banner was shown for the first time at the Community Fun Day on 6th August and now takes pride of place in our cosy room in the Art Flat.
Making it was a brilliant experience and we’ve learnt and developed a range of useful skills throughout the research, design and making stages. The banner was truly a collaborative process incorporating a variety of techniques including image transfer from paper to fabric, hand and machine sewing and applique.
Everything used to make the banner is completely recycled. Why though? In addition to the issues associated with the textiles industry listed above, here are some more specific facts.
The textile industry:
- produces 25% of chemicals worldwide – the industry is often noted as the number two polluter of clean water, after agriculture
- is a massive consumer of freshwater. Cotton can take more than 5,000 gallons of water to manufacture just a T-shirt and a pair of jeans.
– a third of all textiles in the UK end up in landfill
What’s wrong with textiles going into landfill, though? Well, decomposing clothing releases methane, a harmful greenhouse gas and a significant contributor to global warming. There are dyes and chemicals in fabric and other components of clothing and shoes that can leach into the soil, contaminating both surface and groundwater. (Source: triplepundit.com)
Looks like we’ve got a triple bonus then with this recycled banner. 1. we’re not spending any money on the making of it, 2. we’re not buying into the toxic textile industry and 3. we’re preventing old textiles from going into landfill.
Remember, the Recycle Upcycle Workshops workshops are open to all adults, and you can bring along your children with you. Sessions run from 6pm-8pm on Monday evenings at 12 Broomhill Court, PA15 4ET, until April.
For more information on the textile industry: