ReMaking Paradise – Exhibition of Eco Banners at St. John’s Church, Tideswell

At the end of October, St. John’s Church in Tideswell (our ‘Cathedral of the Peak’) became a gorgeous explosion of colour, creativity and skill, with 24 banners designed to explore the theme of ‘ReMaking Paradise’. TDEG were delighted to help the Church steward the display, and also organised a visit by our marvellous 1st Tideswell Scouts.

1st Tideswell Scouts – Our Roving Reporters

The Scouts acted as our ‘roving reporters’. We asked them to find out more about the exhibition and to reflect on each banner and review their messages.

The following words are a summary of their findings.

Our Vicar Gillian White explained the background to the exhibition. The banners were created mainly during the covid years, and then have been exhibited between two important conferences on climate change – COP 26 and COP27 – for the Christian Arts Festival. The exhibition has been to many different Churches around the UK. St. John’s Church in Tideswell is the furthest north it has been on display.

The makers had been asked to respond to the question “How do we make our world a better place?” The overall themes were –

Destruction – Restoration – Care – Beauty

The banners were created by different groups, churches, families and friends. And they were made using many different materials – often recycled or repurposed. As well as beautiful embroidery, Gillian suggested we should look out for seashells, bottle tops, plastic litter, and sweet wrappers. These images show close-ups of some of the detail of banners, showing their imaginative use of different materials.

The Scouts then explored the whole exhibition, thinking about each banner in turn. They particularly focused on the visual impact of each banner, the use of materials, and whether the overall message was clear. All the banners were very impressive, but we tried to use these criteria to see which we thought were the most impactful and inspirational.

After a lot of reflection (and carefully adding up our review scores), it was impossible to identify a clear winner. But three banners in particular really impressed many of the Scouts:

‘Big Blue’ by Rachel Hepponstall

This banner was inspired by an episode of the Blue Planet on the BBC. Rachel wanted to show how the mother whale took so much care of her calf, even while surrounded by plastic pollution and other dangers in our oceans.

Mixed materials had been used, including felting, batik, embroidery, and plastic waste found on beaches in Cornwall and Dorset.

Some of the words used to describe ‘Big Blue’ by the Scouts included – beauty; special; meaningful; help the whale; powerful; sad; and unique.

This banner clearly got across both the vulnerability of our natural world and also its beauty.

'Big Blue' by Rachel Heppenstall
'Choose Beauty' by Trudi Price and friends
‘Choose Beauty’ by Trudi Price and friends

This banner was created by a Bee Sewcial group, with some particularly imaginative use of materials. The fabric was dyed with tea, crisp packets were woven and stitched on. A lot of upcycling was involved.

The theme was the universal problem of litter – particularly the disappointing amount of litter discarded in our parks and in the countryside. The group wanted to question why people who had apparently come to enjoy our natural spaces, couldn’t also respect nature and take litter home.

One group of Scouts was particularly impressed by this banner, giving it top marks in all our categories. They described it as cool, colourful and insane! It certainly made an impression.

‘Restoration’ by Churchdown Methodist Church
This church group really wanted to focus on restoration and hope – hope for the future, hope for the planet, hope for all God’s creatures and mankind. They have tried to show how we might journey from a polluted and spoiled planet to a much greener and happier world.
The Scouts felt this was a really important and clear message, and also thought the development of the banner was both eye-catching and outstanding.
It was interesting that although our Scouts really appreciated some of the darker and sadder banners, they responded most to those with a hopeful and optimistic message. 
'Restoration' by Churchdown Methodist Church
'Care for our Earth' by 1st Tideswell Scouts
‘Care for our Earth’ – 1st Tideswell Scouts

Of course, as well as all these splendid banners from across the country, we should also mention our own 1st Tideswell Scouts banner – made by the Cubs for this exhibition. It demonstrates so brilliantly that the responsibility to care for our earth is shared by all of us, and we will also all share the benefits of a healthy planet. Great job!

Hopefully, the banner will be on display in the new Community Hall soon.

Our thanks to Gillian and Simon White for arranging this wonderful exhibition, to all the groups who contributed, and to our Scouts for working so hard to describe the messages behind all the banners. Some photos below show the Scouts exploring the exhibition and sharing their thoughts.

Well done all!

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