President Michael D Higgins officially launched the SIPTU 1913 Tapestry project on Tuesday, 6 November. This project is a partnership involving SIPTU, the National College of Art and Design, community groups, schools and the arts and crafts sector, including the Irish Countrywomen’s Association, the Embroidery Guild and the Irish Patchwork Society. The tapestry will tell the story of 1913 through 30 richly embroidered panels, and will be accompanied by a film and a documentary for television. The Tapestry Project is an ambitious, large-scale, collaborative visual arts project to commemorate the centenary of the 1913 Lockout.
At the launch, President Higgins, said ‘it is through the power of collective action that the workers of the Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union sought to establish their right to organise to secure a better deal for the ordinary workers of Dublin, and it is very fitting that it is through collaboration that they are being remembered’.
He added, ‘this tapestry project is a rich symbol of how a new living community of voluntary groups, trade unions, colleges, schools and volunteers can actively participate in reclaiming and understanding the past rather than accepting traditional orthodoxies. Ní neart go cur le chéile – we are stronger together than separated. The evidence will be displayed by this wonderful project which shows just what can be done when many people come together, each to play their own part in a greater project’.
President Higgins said that the 1913 Lockout centenary had a special place in the decade of upcoming anniversaries of seminal events in Irish history. ‘In this case, the conflict was not with a dominant colonial power with whom we had shared a troubled history. The perceived enemy was within. The 1913 Lockout has a different emphasis to other upcoming centenaries in that it was primarily a class based struggle between labour and capitalism’.
Following his speech in the Liberty Hall, SIPTU President Jack O’Connor presented President Higgins with a silver union badge to acknowledge his life-long commitment to the values of solidarity and equality.
It is planned to complete the Tapestry Project in time for the centenary of the beginning of the Lockout in August 2013. Artists Cathy Henderson and Robert Ballagh have been commissioned by SIPTU and the National College of Art and Design to create the visual narrative of over 30 panels. The panels will be laid out in a tapestry consisting of multi-media textile pieces sewn and embroidered by volunteers.
You can watch a short documentary about the tapestry by clicking here
From History Ireland: The Lockout tapestry.
To watch the RTE report on the Lockout Tapestry, from Century Ireland, click here