Troubles Textiles: Textile responses to the conflict in Northern Ireland

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    Textiles have been used as protest and testimony, storytelling and memory, from the Bayeux Tapestry to Suffrage banners, AIDS quilts and craftivism. War textiles emerged in some cultures exposed to conflict during the 1970s; for example the arpilleras of Chile and Latin America, the story cloths of the Hmong people in refugee camps in Thailand, and more recently memory cloths depicting apartheid in South Africa. This paper presents the textiles that emerged in response to the Troubles in Northern Ireland. It includes individual responses, collaborative community quilts, and artist-led projects for remembrance, healing and peace. In Northern Ireland religious, cultural, political and national differences escalated in 1968 into the sectarian civil conflict known as “the Troubles” which continued for 30 years until the Good Friday agreement in 1998. The textiles discussed in this article date from the Troubles and the post-conflict (but still deeply conflicted) period since then. Textile responses have not been included in art exhibitions or literature about the Troubles and therefore a unique response, almost exclusively by women, is missing from the broader narrative. Primary research was through recorded, transcribed interviews with makers and analysis of the processes and outcomes of their work.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)234-251
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 2015


    • textiles
    • quilts
    • activism
    • conflict
    • war
    • memory
    • Ireland
    • Troubles


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