A banner created by Ed Hall, one of this country’s leading banner makers, went on display in Salisbury Cathedral last Friday. Developed during workshops with Wiltshire College and University Centre students that explored the themes behind the Cathedral’s recent art exhibition To Be Free, the banner was inspired by ideas and mood boards created by the students.
Katherine Dolphin, Education Officer at Salisbury Cathedral said: “There were two parts to the workshop. After a tour of the exhibition with our Visual Arts Curator, Beth Hughes, Ed Hall showed the students two banners he had brought with him, and talked about the background to the banners, how he developed them, their meaning and purpose. Then the students designed individual mood boards which Ed used to create the final banner design.
“The students were encouraged to consider the themes of the exhibition, as well as the surrounding environment of the Cathedral and the city of Salisbury. These ideas are reflected in the final banner design, which brings together their own feelings and ideas about freedom and what influences them. They used a variety of materials, combining different colours and textures in the board designs – and they didn’t know which ideas Ed would include, so the final banner reveal was a surprise!”
Ed Halls, banner maker said: “The design is traditional, but I hope it allows those who see it to think of the world today and what concerns young people. The title, To Be Free, is a direct reference to the 1215 Magna Carta displayed in the Cathedral and the recent art exhibition. Many millions of people in the world today are not free to speak freely, dress as they would wish and elect the governments they want.
“The rainbow appeared in many of the students’ sketches as a symbol of equality, as did the globe, and one design called for animal rights. It was interesting to me that the students use dress, hairstyles and T shirt slogans, as freedom of expression. Some their clothing referenced the gothic too, which was useful because I wanted to use gothic arch to illustrate the Cathedral. For me the arch represents internationalism. The gothic style was developed in France, but inspired by the arches of the middle east, which many would have seen during their time in Crusader kingdoms. In 1200s the pointed arch was also a structural breakthrough, so I have used it as a symbol of modernism in the banner.”
Tracey Nichols, Deputy Head of Faculty, Creative Arts, Media and Performance at Wiltshire College & University Centre, said: “We were delighted to be involved in this exciting project and would like to thank Salisbury Cathedral for inviting us to be part of the collaboration. The theme ‘To be free’ really resonated with many of our students. They were all thrilled to see the ideas they had discussed with Ed brought to life in the final piece, and I am sure Ed’s methods and interpretations will inspire them as they continue their own creative journeys.”
In the finished piece the Wiltshire College and University Centre students are represented by figures standing in front of a gothic arch, with the title To Be Free above and a slogan from contemporary rap below. With influences ranging from the students’ favourite pop stars like Taylor Swift, Billie Eilish and Nathan Feverstein (NF) to slogans reflecting the students’ thoughts and beliefs, the finished figures are depicted wearing T-shirts emblazoned with catchphrases such as ‘Equity in Wilshire’, ‘Nobody owns the earth’, ‘You are cosmic’, ‘Rights apply’, ‘Animal rights’ and ‘safe space’. Fittingly, the border of the banner is in Sarum Green, the colour of the robes worn by the Cathedral vergers, Clergy and Choir.
Ed Halls’ To Be Free banner is on display in the Morning Chapel and will remain until 24 November.