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Women on Farms Gathering - The Perpetual Banner and Patches

Banner - Women on Farms Gathering, Victoria, 1990-2004

Image: Banner - Women on Farms Gathering, Victoria, 1990-2004

Source: Museum Victoria

The perpetual banner for the Victorian Women on Farms Gathering was developed in response to a concern raised by one of the original organisers, Shirley Martin, at the third Gathering at Numurkah in 1992. This was that a uniform and identifiable heading or logo be developed for use by all Gatherings. Denise Kirk from the following year's organising committee (Tallangatta 1993) suggested an idea for a perpetual banner with a flowing font style and the prominent use of the women's colours of green and purple. This idea was accepted by the Tallangatta group and Denise, using her design and craft skills, created the original banner with room for an additional logo to be added annually.

Since the Tallangatta Gathering in 1993, each host committee has created a textile patch to represent their Gathering. The patches are sewn onto the perpetual banner which is displayed for the duration of the annual event. The image and theme of these patchwork squares gives form to women's stories and articulates the key issues, messages and understandings of rural women from their particular locality. Patches representing the first three Gatherings (Warragul, Sea Lake and Numurkah) were provided retrospectively at Tallangatta and every Gathering to date is represented on the banner. By 2004 the original banner was completely covered with the patches from the fifteen Gatherings held to that point. An extension to the banner was created for the 2005 Gathering, providing space for future patches to be attached. The perpetual banner, therefore, is made up of several pieces and as a whole, it provides a tangible symbol of the heritage and longevity of the Gatherings. Handmade, machine-made, embroidered, painted, printed, embellished with ornaments or quilted - every patch is different yet together they celebrate the diversity, strength and creativity of the rural women of Victoria. Made variously by farmers, local artists or school students, the patches highlight each region's farming practices and produce, and aim to encapsulate the local community spirit.

For Museum Victoria, the perpetual banner has provided an interesting challenge in terms of collection, conservation and storage. Due to the fact that the banner is ever-evolving and changing, it is necessary to move it in and out of the collection on a regular basis. The stories that the banner envelops and evokes, therefore, must be renewed each year as new layers of meaning are added in response to each Gathering.

Related Stories:

History of Victorian Women on Farms Gatherings
Victorian Women on Farms Gathering Collection
The Women on Farms Gathering Heritage Agreement
Victorian Women on Farms Gatherings - What is a Gathering?
Australian Rural Women's Movement - Timeline
Bibliography - Australian Women on Farms
Rural Women Gather Across Australia
Poetry and Song - The Victorian Women on Farms Gatherings

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