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The Turner Prize
Array's Legacy

Resume: Welcome

The Herbert Art Gallery & Museum

'All voices have been encouraged, irrespective of their level of social recognition, from those in the shielding community to newly arrived citizens and everyone in between. This is a modern-day reflection of our living social history.'

One of the nominee requirements of the Turner Prize (The Turner), when hosted by an entity such as the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum (The Herbert), which is outside of the Tate family, is to leave a legacy in the local communities. There were many legacies of The Turner 2021, including:

  1. The B.O.S.S sound system - a powerful tool gifted to Hillz FM to empower communities to amplify their voices and express themselves freely

  2. Art Riot Collective - a local art studio with a mission to develop a community of disabled and neurodivergent artists and supporters

  3. Sensory backpacks at, and an improved video guide to, The Herbert

  4. Training provided by Project Art Works to all front-of-house staff on inclusivity, which permanently changed the welcome to all guests of The Herbert

  5. The art residences offered by Project Art Works in their installation generated works, exhibitions and careers for neurodivergent and disabled artists

  6. Anna Farley's inclusive guide continued to influence the accessibility of interpretation at The Herbert

However, the most significant initiative was driven by the spirit of Array Collective (Array), the eventual winner of The Turner 2021. I managed this, which became known as 'The Coventry Banner'.

Some collectives had a clear vision for their community engagement programme, while others required support. Array had created a diverse response to the communities of The Herbert, and this legacy project was an addition to it. With their approval, I proposed the idea of The Coventry Banner to Array and managed and installed this massive community engagement initiative. The project involved creating a textile installation in the atrium of The Herbert, consisting of over 250 collective and individual community pieces reflecting on people's passions. Though the original banner target number had been fifty, this was quickly surpassed, such was the project's success.

Banners And No Budget

Array had filled their síbín (a 'pub without permission' pronounced 'seebeen') and indeed their careers with protest and banners. Banners adorned the ceiling of their drinking den, others were changed periodically throughout the exhibition to reflect key community dates, and some were seen in photo and video forms. As a former banner maker, I found it manna from heaven as a potential direction for a community engagement programme. There was just one minor complication resulting from the incorrect allocation of funds to another related expense. There was no budget for this community requirement. Ummm, tricky.


Array has three rules:

'Welcome, host and treat others in a supporting, friendly way; get out and campaign with your local activist groups; geg (have a) – a laugh.'


There were to be few rules to ensure that my mantra of nemo resideo, or 'leave no one behind', was to be followed. Inspired by Array's governing rules, their banners, and ideology, the legacy project was born. The list below offers a deeper dive into my rationale and deliberations:​​​​​

1. The project's design was initially based on Array's three rules, which, as they were displayed on the wall of their síbín, I'd read every workday. These rules held a great meaning for me. They became the foundation of my community engagement with The Turner and influenced many other aspects of my work. In this spirit, the community banners had to be created.

2. Artichoke gifted me unused sashes from their mass art participation project called Processions. This was a fabulous coincidence as Array had taken part in the Belfast arm of this march under their own banner, and indeed, this banner had been shown as part of their Turner installation. The Processions sashes were to be worn originally by community members who wished to join together as a coherent entity and have their voices amplified, echoing what this legacy project wanted to achieve. It would fulfil my desire to work in an ever-increasing carbon-sensitive manner as I would be repurposing my main component. This was the second jumping-off point of the project proposal.

3. The art materials used to create a banner design also could not be cost-prohibitive. It was agreed that participants could use whatever they had to hand, whether that be embroidery threads, paints, inks, dyes, biro, or even lipstick! Array used various materials to generate banners, from fabric to felt-tip pens. I needed to create an engagement programme that was as authentic and respectful of Array's work as possible to allow the community to better understand and reflect on their works in The Turner. Expensive art supplies were not the direction.

4. There was only one textile artist in Array, but this did not stop all of the other members in the collective from expressing themselves through banners. Although the base of each legacy community piece would be a piece of textiles, there was no requirement to generate a wholly textile response. My rule was, 'If you can make a mark, you're in!' Being a textile artist was not the direction.

5. I had worked hard in my Turner Prize engagement programme through cold calling, dropping in, having cups of tea with, and networking to invite as many different community groups as possible to visit the exhibition with me as their guide (should they want it.) Each one of these groups must be supported to contribute to the legacy piece if they wish to. A lack of confidence, network or knowledge could not hinder execution. Gentle / Radical had taught me to adopt 'an inch wide and mile deep' philosophy in building community connections. I had to devise a project that allowed me to reapproach and deepen every embryonic relationship.

6. The project had to be portable and time flexible, going where the communities were and when they congregated. Using my daily hours and transport budget, which had already been costed, I embarked on a campaign to visit and support as many groups as possible. This often meant evening working, travelling to what the group called home and bringing already partially used art materials in a wheelie trolley to get over the need to spend on supplies. I also spent time dropping off sashes to those who were shielding - we were all in this together.

7. The project's theme needed to be adaptable to ensure a diverse range of voices could be heard. Each community group had a unique purpose that could be reflected in the banners they created. There was no single correct response, and each response held equal value. Often, the voices of these people were not represented on any platform, making it even more critical to provide a space for them to be heard.

8. Venue selection was a consideration; not everyone could or wanted to create at The Herbert. However, I had no budget for room hire, so I called on the community to offer solutions. Homes, school rooms, halls, rooms in pubs, and market stalls were all offered, so that's where the creation happened if people wanted to make way from their homes. I (as The Herbert) went everywhere to facilitate making—we went mobile!

9. Some groups didn't want or need The Herbert's support for creation, so I worked with their facilitators to allow them to generate their own pieces using the Processions sashes as the common denominator. I then made a drop-off point at The Herbert to enable them to share at their convenience and collect for their venues.

10. Some individuals wanted to participate alone and at home (we were still in COVID-19 considerations). I needed a set of instructions that could be downloaded and accessed via The Herbert's website to guide their creation and ensure continuity of response.

11. Project Art Works had been a positive partner to all Turner nominees in 2021, encouraging inclusion in all aspects of cultural participation. Their artist, Anna Farley, developed an accessible guide to The Turner, which I helped produce. I used Anna's inspiration to generate an inclusive online guide to participation. I recognised how all communities thoroughly enjoyed this guide in The Turner, so I produced one guide to answer everyone's questions about this legacy project.

12. Any voice, community concern or passion created on a banner would be celebrated. However, this was the only place where I had to add caveats. One of Array's rules was to 'treat others in a supporting, friendly way.' Embodying this, I couldn't allow messages that were offensive to others. A rule had to be made.

13. I had been instructed by The Herbert's curatorial team that the legacy project had to be 'big and bold' and be able to be shown over an existing piece in the atrium. I needed to target around 50 pieces to meet the hanging requirements.

14. In the wider community, bed sheets and duvet covers stitched and painted with slogans and designs were being used along the fences of a make-shift camp established by the locals to protest against the widening of the road system and the related felling of trees. I knew the people involved in this protest and their passion. Coventry was already showing its desire for its voice to be heard.

Trial, Feedback, Rejig & Go Again

I created my own banner to test whether my banner community engagement project could be executed. As a textile artist, I used the opportunity to reflect on my thoughts about divorce, a focus of mine at the time. On the Artichoke former sash, all materials were reused, and in my execution, I ensured that I was reflecting a passion of mine and that in creating, I gained joy.

The next stage was to trial the project with a group. It was agreed that I work with King Edward VI College in Nuneaton (a target region of the City of Culture.) I was an artist in residence here, so a firm foundation was established to allow honest feedback and experimentation. The group were on a foundation art degree, so they had creative confidence and were used to offering honest critique. The group set to work and made various banners individually or in collaboration using multiple materials. At this stage, the instructions were embryonic, so they assisted me in devising what needed to be expressed in any supporting document.

A second group trial was conducted at a school in a target region mentioned in The Herbert's business plan. This trial aimed to test the 'making' aspect and the instructions. At this stage, I had created my version of an easy-to-use guide, which they could provide feedback on. This group consisted of people with diverse backgrounds, including those from disabled and neurodiverse communities. This diversity was very beneficial for me as I received insightful feedback on the accessibility of my instructions.

It Takes A Village

Whilst I was in control of my programme of creativity in the community, which took me from school to pub, to library, to market, to community hub, to house, etc., I had to co-curate with a considerable number of people and departments to bring the installation to fruition:​

1. The curatorial team was responsible for preserving the artworks in The Herbert. They needed involvement as my brief required me to install over an existing piece. The art in question was a treasured huge painting on board by a local artist. Its respect and handling were paramount. Also in the atrium was an ancient ribbon-weaving loom. Great discussion ensued over how to install around this unmovable piece and ensure no harm came to it.

2. With the facilities and maintenance team, I soon realised I would need a lifting platform to reach the ceiling high enough to install the banners, as the atrium's height was tremendous. This required risk assessment, equipment hire, coordination of those trained to use the scissor lift, and resource delivery at the right time to avoid causing a risk to visitors (we had to arrange to open early, and not everyone was trained to do this or was available.)

3. The team in charge of the front-of-house operations required consultation for installing banners as The Herbert was to be open to reduce costs. They also provided guidance on hanging the banners to avoid triggering fire alarms or motion detectors. To prevent movement, we sewed weights into the base of each banner ribbon. In addition, they suggested the optimal placement of the banners to avoid interfering with sensors, panels, exit, and egress points. The team also helped develop a suitable launch event and contributed to de-installation.

4. I managed a group of volunteers who collaborated to curate the themes and plan the installation of the banners. One member, an architect, helped with measurements and design plans. They stitched the pieces together, added weights and assisted at the launch event. The banners were curated and created live in the atrium to give the community a behind-the-scenes look at the process. A roped-off area with tables and a sewing machine was set up, and anyone interested was invited to observe, participate and ask questions.

5. The management team, board, and City of Culture personnel were involved in this joint venture. CV Life saw this project as a complete expression of their culture and brand in creative form.

6. A professional installer helped me hang the installation, as this was the first time I had installed a piece in a large institution with many restrictions and health and safety requirements.

7. I wanted to involve the community groups in the whole process, so I established a WhatsApp group to update them on the progress of events, ask for advice, and devise a fitting launch event.

8. The marketing and online teams of The Herbert, as my accessible instructions, needed uploading, website pages devising, social media posts offered, articles written for publications, video footage taken, and advertising of the launch event and subsequent exhibition made.

9. Print specialists to help create interpretation of the installation.

10. The evaluation team at Herbert helped to collect the necessary information for funding reports and agreed upon a method to obtain audience feedback for the installation. We opted for video testimony from attendees at the launch event and allowed subsequent audiences to create mini banners using repurposed fabric and felt tips. These banners could then be attached to the installation wall using blue-tac to prevent any damage to the gallery. This was a cost-effective decision as we could utilise our in-house video resources and our existing stock of fabric and pens. The aim was to allow people to express their passions and feel included, represented and heard.

11. Array, which was kept up to date, then offered to make a banner that was added to the display.

12 The Herbert's workshop to design, make and paint a plith to allow an area of the feedback mini banners to be made.

13. The events team to help with the launch and any subsequent exhibition events. The launch was planned for a community tea party and picnic in the atrium of The Herbert. People were encouraged to bring their lunch and have a cup of tea together. One group brought their collective tea sets of cups and saucers to share, another their parklet, mats and cushions were appropriated from The Herbert's early years provision, and we used the onsite catering to keep costs down.

This was a considerable undertaking, most of which I had yet to gain experience with.

Launch & Further Adventures

On the launch day, which was delieratly planned to co-incide with Mental Health Awareness Week, I was filled with emotion as The Coventry Banner stretched me in every way. Two families attended who had lost a loved one who had made a banner but had died before the showing, which added to my empathy for all. The event passed with great fanfare, attendance, and celebration, and even the shielding community was represented via video. The speaker recounted how they had supported another shielding individual who was desperately ill and was unlikely to participate without assistance. This involved them painting a banner under the verbal instructions of the other through a live feed, as they were now unable to move their hands.

Further events were planned, including an evening where people could tell the stories behind their banners, a banner-making workshop in the summer Herbert's programme, and a lesson on stitching. 

The proposed fifty banners swelled to over 250 in the end (banners were still coming to The Hebert after the launch event, which I carried on including in the installation.) People genuinely felt they had claimed The Herbert's atrium as their own. I saw people bring in their families to show them what they had made and where it was exhibited. The Turner and The Coventry Banner had generated a real buzz, and people treasured the result. Such was the regard for the installation that I had to find another venue to permanently display it within, as The Herbert had limited stores. Some banners were kept by The Herbert, and some were photographed and recorded for the city's archives.

Coventry Central Hall stands as this piece's permanent home, an artwork that symbolises collaboration and inspiration (on the tiniest of budgets.) It brought together a diverse group of people to tackle complex societal issues, and it did so with grace, beauty, and thoughtfulness. It was nominated for two awards and was the subject of a paper. Shining a light on often overlooked or ignored topics, this project helped give a voice to those frequently silenced. Its success is a testament to the power of collaboration, creativity, and community. Let us all be inspired by this example and work towards creating a better world, one step at a time.

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