Cultural Fusions is an arts and cultural programme designed through Mid-Antrim Museums Service and Causeway Museum Service across the North East council areas for PEACE III objectives of sharing, expression and experience of different cultures. The programme has had several relevant projects worth noting.

Images of Ireland: Politics of Identity, 1887-1916

This travelling exhibition brings together collections from the six North East councils in order to highlight how certain cultural and political events influenced and shaped identity in the late 19th and early 20th century and is a useful resource for exploration of contemporary local identity.

Artefacts in the exhibition include themes around government, music, literature, language, history, sport and explorations of identity through emerging political and socio-cultural movements. This project then informed the development of a follow-on project called Emblems of Ireland which included arts workshops with whose print and ceramic artworks on local identity then formed the basis for a small touring exhibition.

Stitching and Unstitching the Troubles

This exhibition emerged from a two-phase programme of exhibitions and workshops exploring memories of conflict through textile art. Originating in Chile in the 1970s, arpillera (ar-pee-air-ah) textile artworks were created as a means of sharing stories relating to experiences of conflict. This textile tradition has since spread across the world and was used as part of this exhibition.

The phase I exhibition in Coleraine Town Hall incorporated nearly 40 quilts and arpilleras from 7 countries which explored different aspects of conflict. Exhibition tours and workshops were held with local women’s groups exploring experiences of local and international conflict as depicted in the displayed arpilleras and quilts. Women had the opportunity to discuss the pieces they had seen, relate the issues raised to the conflict in and about Northern Ireland, and to develop a textile artwork of their own, or to produce a cloth doll representing an aspect of themselves and their experiences.

The phase II exhibition at Mid- Antrim Museum at The Braid, Ballymena incorporated the local women’s perspectives through the display of the new textile art works they had created.

What worked well and what, if anything, didn't?

There have now been 21 arpilleras created relating specifically to local perspectives on and experiences of the Troubles across the North East. Looking at textile art from other conflict areas enabled people to ease into discussing the conflict in and about Northern Ireland. Participants took ownership of both exhibitions because they had created new pieces for it.

The thematic grouping of the pieces meant that the exhibition was very much a cross-community production.
The pieces, and the exhibition, are a lasting resource, which can be used to inspire many more discussions about memorialisation and other aspects of the conflict.

Further Information

Maria Cagney at Mid-Antrim Museum Service, (028) 2563 5926 or maria.cagney@ballymena.gov.uk