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The port and docks of Belfast: imagined through textiles

Arts for All commenced a major textiles programme in February 2013 partnering with intercultural arts organisation ArtsEkta. This programme explores, researches and recounts the story of the port and docks of Belfast, in particular women's contribution to this important maritime history and heritage. The programme has involved:

  • community research
  • social history
  • study visits
  • drawing sessions
  • sewing sessions
  • development of two textile panel 
  • Four launches of the first panel
  • Two launches of the second panel

During 2013, the programme partnered with the 1913 Dublin Lockout tapestry project and throughout 2014 partners have been the Great Scottish 

Tapestry: http://www.scotlandstapestry.com/. This involved two visits to Dublin during 2013 and two visits to Scotland during 2014, developing valuable relationships with partners and north-south and important east-west relations.

The first panel was completed, framed and launched during December 2013. Four launches took place in:

  • Stormont, hosted by the Committee of Culture, Arts and Leisure
  • Belfast City Hall, hosted by the lord mayor
  • Arts for All
  • Island Arts Centre

23 participants took place during the first year and worked on this panel (three metres x two metres). They came from a wide range of cultural backgrounds including Japanese, India, Colombian and Polish. 

2014 saw work starting on two more panels. A total of 21 participants engaged during this year. The first panel focused on the years 1850-1914 and the second on 1915-1950. These periods covered tumultous events which severely impacted on life in the port and docks including the partition of the island, two world and women's suffrage. The first of these panels (one and a half metres x two metres) was launched at the Ulster Museum in May 2015 by Andrew Crummy of the Great Scottish tapestry.

Arts for All intern Lucy Kelly-Desmond has developed a project blog with information about the project: http://portanddocksofbelfasttapestry.wordpress.com/