James Ashe is a final year Graphic Communication student at Norwich University of the Arts. He’s a freelance designer and photographer with an interest in brands, print and visual identity projects.
This year is the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement which changed the landscape of Northern Ireland. As I approach the conclusion of my studies in Norwich, I am putting together a book that is a reflection of growing up in post-conflict Northern Ireland.
It’s entitled You Can’t Eat a Flag: 20 Years of Peace 1998 – 2018 and will be a visual record of the past two decades in Northern Ireland. My deadline for completion is mid-May.
And I need your help! In order to complete my book I need to document artefacts from 1998 to present day. Artefacts can range from photographs to badges, posters, memorabilia, leaflets, printed material, and more. I will photograph/scan anything provided return every item to the sender once I am finished.
The project grew out of the interest in Northern Ireland that rose up in England after the last General Election. Personally I’ve had questions regarding politics, civil rights, culture, and growing up in Northern Ireland. The themes that will be present in this book are the “Yes” campaign and signing of the Good Friday Agreement, power-sharing, political scandals, elections, protests, activism, abortion, same-sex marriage, education, flags, identity, arts, culture, and the music scene.
The title is a nod to John Hume’s discussion about real politics being about people’s wellbeing and well-living, rather than waving flags at each other. I remember seeing an online image of a masked man protesting against the 2012 City Hall Flag protests sporting the same phrase on a placard. Quite often in 2018, I think that some of our politicians need reminded of this again.
I retreated to England to get away from Northern Ireland for a while and to figure out my own identity, and while we live in times of great uncertainty and dynamic social change I realised that where I come from forms a large part of my identity and who I am. After 3 years I personally don’t know where I lie on the political divide anymore and, to be honest, it’s not my priority in life.
Thanks for your help.