The Good Hope Flags
By Judith Haaser
Judith Haaser finds out more about Joanna Brinton’s Good Hope Flags, displayed on the Hoe to celebrate founder of renowned stamp business Edward Stanley Gibbons.
If you wander around Plymouth Hoe and pass by the Valentis Café and Bar, you might have noticed a range of flags in the garden. A sign explains a little bit more about them, but who are the people behind this intriguing project?
Since May 2015, artist Joanna Brinton has been working with local groups and traditional flag makers on a series of flags and events for the gardens. The last flag was raised on 24 February this year to celebrate Plymouth City Council workers who take care of the gardens and helped enormously during the project.
Joanna held a workshop with the gardening team and office staff to create the final design. The result was the Diggers flag. The gardening team had an interesting discussion about tools, and in particular about one very special trowel, worn to a third of its original size from being so well used.
Joanna said: “There’s something unfailingly fascinating about talking with people who understand the importance of tools, and the relationship between these vital objects and the roles they perform. The Diggers flag, draws our attention to the relationship between humans and nature, pleasure and work and the inherent connections between people and their surroundings.”
Local residents and members of Plymouth City Council Gardens Team installing the Diggers Flag (Credit: Wioleta Hardej)
Artist Joanna Brinton
The flags celebrate Plymouth-born founder of renowned stamp business, Edward Stanley Gibbons. Born in 1840, Gibbons started his stamp collecting business in his father’s pharmacy at 15 Treville Street, Plymouth. Today, Stanley Gibbons Ltd is regarded as the market leader of stamp collecting.2015 marked the 150th anniversary of the company’s publication of their famous stamp catalogues and artists based in the South West were invited to create a new piece of public art celebrating his achievements.
In 2015, Joanna Brinton was an associate artist based at Plymouth University. To celebrate Edward Stanley Gibbons, she proposed a series of flags based on the triangular ‘Cape of Good Hope’ stamps which helped establish Gibbons in 1863. Her idea was chosen by a panel of representatives from Plymouth City Council, Plymouth Culture, Arts Council England, Plymouth Arts Centre and the Hoe Conservation and Residents Association.
Joanna, born in Southampton and living in London, works in print, design and sculpture. Her practice incorporates public commissions, books, publications and design for contemporary art galleries, personal projects and institutions including South London Gallery, National Trust & University of the Arts London. Collaboration and education are the core of her workshops and teaching practice. Plymouth plays a big role in Joanna’s life and her love of art and this project was very special to her. The involvement of schools and the community contributed to the success of this project and shows the potential of Plymouth’s arts scene. Even neglected public places can spring to life again.
Joanna also added a feature to the garden: “‘A Mark that Moves’, is a fourteen-metre reflective board which mirrors the surrounding environment. Nearby landmarks can be glimpsed in its surface and become transient features of the garden as viewers move around the site. In this way visitors may be seen to enter the gardens, which are ordinarily locked.”
Local residents and members of Hoe Community Residents Association with the Hoe Flag (credit: Wioleta Hardej)