Badges, Peace and Protest – March 2022
This month’s blog post is a little different! To celebrate the 40th anniversary of Greenham Common Peace camp, The Peace Museum worked with artist Layla Khoo in 2021, inviting members of the public to Artworks in Halifax to come and make their own protest badges. These events ran alongside Calder Valley CND’s ‘Our Greenham’ exhibition, which put the Greenham women’s peace camp into the context of the wider struggle against nuclear weapons, and featured several objects from The Peace Museum’s collection.
The badges that were made at these events are now being featured on our website, as part of their own mini exhibition. To celebrate, Emilia Bazydlo, one of our volunteers, has selected some of her favourite badges from our collection, and written about the significance of each of them:
Hiroshima origami crane badges
These two badges represent origami paper cranes which are recognised as symbol of peace and hope. Sadako Sasaki, a girl who survived the atomic bomb drop in Hiroshima and later suffered radiation induced leukaemia, was told by her father that if she folded a thousand paper cranes she’d be granted a wish. She made a thousand and started folding more, but unfortunately she died in October 1955. Her story captured the imagination of many and her classmates started to collect funds for a memorial for her. A statue of Sadako holding a crane was erected in the Hiroshima Peace Park in 1958.
Purple poppy badge
In the United Kingdom, a purple poppy is used as a symbol to symbolise animals that lost their lives during wartime. The animals most commonly used in the war were dogs, pigeons, horses, cats, canaries and mules.
The design for the purple poppy was created in 2006 based on the commonly known red poppy that symbolises Royal British Legions fighting in World War One. The purple poppy is officially associated with the Animal Aid Charity and has been designated to 23rd of August, however it is also worn on the 11th of November.
5th World Festival of Youth and Students badge
This badge was created for the 5th World Festival of Youth and Students that took place in 1955 in Warsaw, Poland, that was then a communist country. The festival was supposed to become proof of socialism’s superiority over capitalism. Yet, the contrast between Poles and wealthier people from Western Europe is often recognised as one of the reasons for Polish October: a change in the Polish politics in 1956 that resulted in greater independence of Poland from the Soviet Union.
Cat Lovers against the Bomb badge
Cat Lovers against the Bomb is a fraction of Nebraskans for Peace group that was funded in 1970s’ in opposition to the Vietnam War. The Cat Lovers against the Bomb describe themselves as ‘make up an informal network of cat lovers who promote peace and social justice for all.‘ The group has been publishing calendars with pictures of cats from 1983. You can submit a photo of your cat for the next edition of the calendar here. https://www.catloverscalendar.org/pages/photosubmissions
Support the Peace Camps badge
The design of this badge includes the CND symbol as well as flowers symbolically representing the United Kingdom. The 1980s were a decade with a massive surge of peace campaigning across the UK as more and more people were concerned with the prospect of nuclear war. Peace activism took many forms, however the most memorable ones were peace camps set around military bases, for example the Women’s Peace Camp at Greenham Common. The flowers surrounding the peace symbol are a call to unite the efforts but the colourful design can be also a manifestation of the role of women in peace activism as bright colours are associated with femininity.
This wooden cat-shaped badge was produced by CND and it includes a CND logo that is also recognised as a peace symbol. The symbol was designed by in 1958 by artist Gerald Holtom. He didn’t applied copyright to the symbol so that it can be used freely. It incorporates semaphore letters N and D for nuclear disarmament. The badge only proves that cats were a cultural phenomenon well before the Internet.
A white dove has been representing hope and love since ancient times. In 1949, Pablo Picasso was invited to create an image to represent peace for the First International Peace Conference in Paris. Picasso’s first dove was a realistic print. Later, he created more linear and abstract representations of the bird. The symbol became associated not only with peace but also with communism, which isn’t surprising considering that Picasso belonged to the Communist Party.
These two badges employ the symbol in a graphic way. The first one resembles Picasso’s style. The other one refers to the specific aspect of peace activism and can be dated back to the 1980s. It relies on sharp lines and a stark colour contrast to attract attention.
The Earth badge
This badge speaks to the environmental issues. The birth of the movement for the protection of the environment can be dated back to the first Earth Day – 22 April 1970. The public awareness regarding the environment, pollution and public health was raised in the early 1960s with the publication of Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring. Yet, today more than ever the environmental crisis demands urgent action to change human behaviour and create a local, national, and global pro-environmental policies. Moreover, the questions of environment and peace are strictly connected. They are cross-cutting and relevant in all areas of security, conservation and sustainable development.
You can find out more about the badges in our collection, and see those made by visitors at our Badge of Protest workshops, in the digital mini exhibition now – click here to visit.