The Contemporary Durham Miners’ Banner: A Unique Expression for Post-Industrial Communities?

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The increasing display and exhibition of historic miners’ banner acts as a catalyst in creating an appreciation of the value of these relics. New banners, commissioned by a community to replace their damaged or ‘retired’ historic banner, are being paraded at the Durham Miners’ Gala, which enjoys greater attendance now than in the 1970s, when pits were still fully operational. Walter Benjamin proposes that a piece of art in its original and intended location possesses an ‘aura’, and therefore this study asks whether these new miners’ banners can possibly possess the ‘aura’ of their historic counterparts. As ‘living objects’, Grayson Perry speaks of the banners paraded at the Durham Miners’ Gala in spiritual terms and draws parallels with the parading of treasured artworks in Medieval Florence.

But how does a community represent its unique identity through the artwork of its banner? By interviewing artists within contemporary practices in Durham (North East England) and a fabric conservator with a speciality in banners, the historic and contemporary Durham Miners’ banners have been explored in relation to their relevance for new communities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)143-171
JournalJournal of Textile Design Research and Practice
Issue number2
Early online date20 Jul 2020
Publication statusPublished - 2020


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