You can't eat a flag
2018 marks the 20th Anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement which dramatically changed the landscape in Northern Ireland. Being born in 1993, I was too young to have experienced the violence and bombings of the Troubles but ultimately still had to grow up living with the results of events that happened before my time.
I moved to Norwich to study a graphic design degree at Norwich University of the Arts in 2015 and now, after almost three years, I am reaching the end of my studies. Last year, I wrote about my experiences living away from home as part of this website's #28DaysNI project. After the results of 2017’s General Election, I had a lot of English people asking me about the DUP, their stance towards abortion and same-sex marriage.
There is definitely more interest in NI related news in England ever since, it was only last week I had been asked by a lecturer about the Irish Language Act issue at the Stormont Crisis Talks. Not many in England know of all the scandals, gaffes, offensive remarks, and the lingering hangover of the sectarian politics we have had to deal within the past decade of power sharing with the DUP and Sinn Féin.
My final project at university will be creating a book on growing up in post-Troubles Northern Ireland. In all honesty, I could have created a whole project around the DUP’s views on same-sex marriage and abortion. However, I feel that would be too easy and more like grabbing low-hanging fruit.
This is why I am instead choosing to focus on my own experiences growing up in post-Troubles Northern Ireland. This will firstly allow me to focus on what a wider scope of people in NI have had to deal with., as well as what we live with today and why we are stuck like this. But I mainly want to show English journalists that we are not all the same.
My aim is to produce a book that documents and covers the past 20 years of Northern Ireland since the signing of the Good Friday Agreement. It's called "You can't Eat A Flag" and he title is a nod to John Hume’s discussion about real politics being about people’s well-being and well-living, rather than waving flags at each other.
It will be a visual record of growing up in NI and dealing with the legacy of the Troubles, curating curating protests, picket signs, banners, flags, marches, elections, inequality for women and same-sex couples, the gaffs and scandals our politicians have made, and how in 2018 we are still living in a divided society.
To give an idea of what to expect, I am heavily influenced by the work of Craig Oldham who curated a book on the 1984 – 1985 Miner’s Strike in northern England. I attended lectures given by Oldham and I was moved by how he spoke of the hardships his family faced under the Thatcher government during the strike from. He released a book on the strike, which curated that period of history.
Of course I do need material to make my own book a reality. I am seeking artifacts from Northern Ireland 1998 onwards. I have listed some examples below, but I am open to anything being submitted:
- Picket Signs
- T Shirts
- Music (CD’s, Vinyl’s, Posters)
- Or anything that you have created
Anything that is sent will be photographed in my studio (and then returned) before being featured in my book – and everyone will be listed and credited in the finished piece. Additionally, I would like to hear people’s stories on growing up in post-Troubles Northern Ireland or having to deal with current topical issues. The deadline for this book to be completed is in mid-May.
If you have anything or want to submit a piece of writing to be featured in the book please contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org or through the form below.