Belfast Telegraph

Women to march in Belfast to mark the centenary of vote

Creative: Artist Rita Duffy
Creative: Artist Rita Duffy

By Stewart Robson and Gillian Halliday

Belfast is set to be awash with colour tomorrow as thousands of women from across Northern Ireland take part in an event to commemorate 100 years since women won the right to vote - with a little help from the Orange Order.

PROCESSIONS is a UK-wide event with celebrations happening in Belfast, Edinburgh, Cardiff and London.

Labelled as a "mass artwork", the Belfast edition will see women, and those who identify as female and non-binary, make their way along the 1.5 mile route from Titanic Belfast to the City Hall.

The event is produced by Artichoke who have previously worked on projects in Londonderry.

The three colours of the suffragette movement - green, white and violet - will be on full display as the parade flows through the city.

As part of the project, 14 community and women's groups across Northern Ireland have worked with professional female artists. They have been commissioned by PROCESSIONS to create handmade banners, addressing contemporary women's issues and participants will carry them on the march.

Rita Duffy is a Northern Ireland-based artist who has helped in the creation of a banner - with some help.

Now living on the border between Cavan and Fermanagh, Rita has collaborated with the Institute for Conflict Research.

"We've very kindly been loaned the poles and leather harnesses by the Master at the Orange Lodge at Carlisle Circus," she said.

"This is evidence that we can move forward, with or without our politicians.

"I think creativity can haul us out of the previous century and maybe into the future and I look forward to doing further collaborations with the Orange Lodge."

The artist, who has worked in Belfast for more than 25 years, says that the help from Carlisle Circus Orange Lodge is hopefully not the last time that she works with the organisation.

"I'd love to work with some Orange bands to create an 'alternative Twelfth', to maybe hold it on another date."

Based on Botticelli's The Birth Of Venus, the vibrant piece will add to the array of colours on show.

"She (Venus) is the goddess of love," she said.

"I chose it because it's readily recognisable and the women in it are from coastal areas around the Ards Peninsula.

"I wanted it to be relevant to their lives."

Event co-ordinator Shauna McNeilly says that tomorrow's parade will be a very important day.

"This is an opportunity for us to ask what it is to be female in the 21st century, and we hope that 100 years from now people will look back and see this as a moment that was marked for us to do that," she said.

The procession leaves Titanic Belfast at 2pm with participants asked to arrive between 12.15 and 1pm.

Belfast Telegraph


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