When the UK went into it's first countrywide lockdown in March 2020 I decided to launch a community project designed to bring some colour and positivity into our lives during what turned out to be a REALLY long and difficult Covid-19 pandemic. That project was the Readymoney Bunting and oh my word, it's something I'm so proud to have curated. Over the course of twelve weeks I announced a different theme each week on social media and crafters & makers from all over the country stepped up to create more fantastic mixed media bunting flags than I could ever have dreamt of.
The weekly themes were:
We had all just been told to "stay home" and there were really strict rules on how many times you could leave the house and for what purpose. The memory of sitting together on the sofa as a family watching the daily news conferences throw our lives completely upside down in a way never experienced by several generations will stay with so many of us for the rest of our lives. Not everyone was lucky enough to have a safe warm home to hunker down in either and the upheaval of lockdowns across the world will be equally as long-lasting as many of those memories.
As people started to adjust to the new normal, rainbows began to appear in windows all over the UK as a sign of solidarity for the amazing work the NHS were, and still are, doing to fight a virus which back then was so very unknown and so very scary.
There were no big family meals and Easter egg hunts were confined to the home or garden but we had flags with Easter eggs, bunnies and chicks as a reminder of the times we were living through. Easter was a particularly tricky time for tourism reliant businesses in Fowey like mine as Easter is usually when the season kicks off and our quiet little town starts to buzz again. Not in 2020. And not in 2021 either as it happened as we were back in lockdown by then too.
This was a topic which meant different things to different people. For some it was a case of having to get used to the whole family being at home ALL the time and in the case of working parents, having to manage home-schooling around existing work commitments which in many cases didn't just stop because of lockdown. Others were separated from their family members for a very long period of time, in the case of some key-workers making arrangements to live apart from their families in order to be able to do their jobs properly and safely in a time where there was very little Covid testing and certainly no vaccines. And sadly, in many cases, Covid meant the loss of family members altogether, often in distressing conditions with final goodbyes via video call and extremely limited funeral arrangements.
Even food shopping was heavily impacted by the pandemic. In the outset there was panic-buying (although you can't eat toilet roll...) and supermarket shelves were bare. Online delivery slots were like hen's teeth and the vulnerable shielding groups were able to receive government food boxes. At times it seemed as if the whole country was baking banana bread and sourdough but there were flour shortages and although it very much wasn't like wartime rationing, many shops did place limits on how much of certain items people could buy. Our bunting flags for this week included burgers, pizza, cream tea, boiled eggs, watermelon and much more.
Being by the sea it was only sensible to include a nautical week for our bunting flags. Lockdown happened at the time when the harbour would usually be starting to fill up again with clay ships, yachts, canoes, kayaks, cruise ships, sailing boats and paddleboards and it was very strange to see it so empty. The lifeboat crew remained on duty throughout though, always there if needed.
7. VE Day: red, white & blue
In 2019 the Fowey community came together to put on an incredibly moving programme of events to mark the 75th anniversary of D Day. In May 2020 the UK had planned an additional public holiday to mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day but those plans all had to be put on hold. Instead many people took part in stay-at-home street parties instead with picnics in their garden making the most of the fabulous weather we were having at the time.
As a nation of animal lovers it was only right to include an animal themed category. We had flags featuring bees, fish, raccoons, birds, dogs including a brilliant recreation of the family dog Colin onto a flag.
9. Hearts & Flowers
My inspiration for this week came from a cover image of a magazine marking Mental Heath Awareness Week. The emotional strain of lockdown on people of all ages and all walks of life was beyond imagination and it will take our society so long to recover from the disruption to education, healthcare services, work and every aspect of daily life as we knew it.
There's nothing we like talking about more in Cornwall than the weather. Whether it's the seemingly endless at times "liquid sunshine", the big winter question of whether we'll see any snow (the answer is usually a hard no....) or watching the storms roll in. In reality, the weather during lockdown was actually pretty amazing. We'll just gloss over the memories of park benches being taped off because we weren't allowed to sit down and talk to people outside our households. They were strange times indeed.
This theme was inspired by Elon Musk's Space X milestone of launching two astronauts into space. This was the first private space launch to the International Space Station and although there's discussion to be had about the need for space exploration when the planet we are on is in need of such dire attention it was a significant event during a period of gloom and something different to focus on.
12. Black Lives Matter
On 25th May 2020 in the US city of Minneapolis, a 46 year old black man named George Floyd was murdered in the street by a white police officer, Derek Chauvin. Chauvin knelt on Floyd's neck for over 9 minutes after arresting him on suspicion of using a counterfeit note. In this age of mobile technology footage soon spread across the world from witnesses who had filmed the arrest and shockwaves reverberated across the world giving rise to scores of protests against institutional racism and police brutality. Living in such a non-racially diverse area as we do, I felt it was important to include this as our last theme of the twelve week project.
From flags to glorious bunting
As things were starting to reopen in the UK (there's a useful pandemic timeline here if you want to refer back) I made the decision that we would stop the bunting at 12 weeks and move to the next phase. Flags started to arrive in earnest from all over the country and by early July I was ready to get the iron and the sewing machine out and get the flags assembled. This was no meant feat but after a few false starts and remembering why it is that I don't use my sewing machine that often, we were ready and the flags finally went up in early July just after we reopened. The attention they received was just wonderful, there was so much detail and so many to see and amaze at. The flags were taken down for the winter but were able to go back up for the summer of 2021 albeit in a rather faded and battered condition. I am still so proud of everyone who contributed towards the project, it really was heart-warming and I met some truly lovely people as a result of it. I couldn't have been happier.
Follow this link to our YouTube account for a video walkthrough of the flags just after they went up, which is your favourite? Apologies the video quality isn't great but it really does give you the full spectacle of the bunting. I do miss it. You can see close up pictures of each of the flags received in a Bunting Stories highlight on my Instagram account here