Monday, 27 May 2024

Textile Details

'John Hume, Peacemaker', Deborah Stockdale. (Photo: Martin Melaugh)
'John Hume, Peacemaker', Deborah Stockdale. (Photo: Martin Melaugh)


Title of Textile:John Hume, Peacemaker
Maker: Deborah Stockdale
Country of Origin: Republic of Ireland
Year Produced: 2022
Size (cm): 40 cm (w) x 53 (h)
Materials: Irish linens, silk, cotton, cotton embroidery threads, hand dyed crewel wool yarns, acquired neck tie, (from the family collection)
Type of Textile: Wall hanging

In this embroidered portrait, Deborah Stockdale captures the multifaceted nature of Derry native John Hume: teacher, credit union organiser, civil rights campaigner, nationalist politician and founding member and leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP). Over several decades and through various channels, he was a key figure in shaping the Northern Ireland Peace process. The Good Friday Agreement signed in April 1998, after more than 25 years of conflict (“The Troubles”, 1969 - 1994) is widely credited to his vision and determination.

The genesis, design and completion of this commemorative textile bring together various threads of connection. Conflict Textiles curator Roberta Bacic secured support from the John Hume and Thomas P. O'Neill Chair in Peace to commission it. Over several months, Deborah immersed herself in the research and design process. Briefings from Roberta and discussions with John’s daughter Mo moved beyond his public persona and gave her a sense “[of] John, the man and father”. She created a composite image from several photographs and sketched these onto a backing fabric of Ulster linen. With multiple shades of skin tone threads and innumerable hand embroidered stitches, she built up his likeness. A necktie of John’s, donated by the Hume family completed the portrait.

The embroidered quotation dates from his Nobel lecture in Oslo, 1998 when he and Unionist leader, David Trimble were awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace. For Deborah, these words “echo the essence of his philosophy, that no one person or community could enjoy peace until all the members of the community had the same basic human rights”.

Further grounding this piece in John’s beloved Derry, Deborah used the oak leaf symbol to represent the city in its ancient Gaelic form, Daire (oak grove). The cluster of five leaves signifies his five children who were central in John’s life; insights gleaned by Deborah in her conversation with Mo. Six leaves underneath his name represent the six counties of Ulster.

Above all, this portrait with its multitude of stitches, shades and tones, honours John’s contribution to peace in Northern Ireland. Together with the arpillera Pat Hume (commemorating his wife Pat) it was unveiled at the Launch of John and Pat Hume Commemorative Textiles, Ulster University, Magee Library campus on 28th January, 2022, close to both their birthdays. John and Pat maintained a strong presence at Magee campus over the years; the campus where John occupied the inaugural Thomas P. O'Neill Chair in Peace studies from 2002 - 2009.

As the Hume family reflected on the first anniversary of John’s death “Ní bheidh a leithéid arís ann!” (There won’t be the likes of him again). (2nd August 2021) “First anniversary of John Hume's death: A special reflection from his family” Derry Journal

Transcript of interview with Deborah Stockdale, (March 2022, Brandon Hamber)

Owner: John Hume and Thomas P. O'Neill Chair in Peace, Derry ~ Londonderry campus, Ulster University
Location: Conflict Textiles store
Original / Replica: Original
Photographer: Martin Melaugh
Provenance: This textile is one of three in a peacemakers' series, commissioned through Conflict Textiles, to mark 25 years of the Good Friday Agreement in Northern Ireland.

Textile Detail Image(s)

  'John Hume, Peacemaker',(Detail) Deborah Stockdale. (Photo: Martin Melaugh)