Design Histories

Fiona Raeside

Fiona Raeside-Elliott is a Senior Lecturer on the Fashion Design & Marketing degree
at the School of Design. Fiona’s research is centred around the miners’ banners of
the post-industrial Durham coalfields, and she is currently studying for a PhD which
explores the question: Are ex-mining communities of North East England shaping a
relevant post-industrial aesthetic for their contemporary miners’ banners? The thesis
considers miners’ banners in terms of artistic expression, representation, and
community totem.

Fiona’s interest in banners started when she was commissioned to design the
contemporary Saint Cuthbert’s banner (the original medieval banner having been
destroyed during the Reformation), which now hangs at the entrance to Saint
Cuthbert’s shrine in Durham Cathedral. This led to her exploring the rich history of
mining culture in North East England. Although the last colliery closed in 1993, both
historic and new miners’ banners continue to be paraded at the annual Durham
Miners’ Gala (DMG), which attracts greater crowds now than when the pits were fully
operational in the 1970s. As new banners are being made and taken to the Durham
Miners’ Gala, she is now asking the question around the worth and value of a
contemporary banner, and whether they can ever hope to possess the ‘aura’ of the
original ones - now retired from their working lives.

Design Histories Working Group