The first in a series of flags celebrating Edward Stanley Gibbons, the Plymouth-born founder of the renowned Stanley Gibbons stamp business, has been raised in Plymouth’s Hoe Garden.
The flags are the brainchild of artist Joanna Brinton, who won a public art commission from Plymouth City Council (supported by Plymouth Culture) to showcase local artists and the city’s unique history.
Born in 1840, Edward Stanley Gibbons started his stamp collecting business in his father’s pharmacy shop at 15 Treville Street in Plymouth. His enterprise took flight and today Stanley Gibbons Ltd is highly regarded as the home and market leader of stamp collecting.
2015 marks the 150th anniversary of the publication of the company’s famous stamp catalogues and artists based in the South West were invited to create a new piece of public art celebrating his achievements.
Joanna, an associate artist at Plymouth University, proposed a series of flags based on the triangular ‘Cape of Good Hope’ stamps that helped establish Stanley Gibbons in 1863. Her idea was chosen by a panel of representatives from the Council, Plymouth Culture, Arts Council England, Plymouth Arts Centre and the Hoe Conservation and Residents Association.
Joanna is involving the local community in the project and recently held a workshop at St Andrew’s CE Primary School, where Year 3 pupils learned about Stanley Gibbons and designed their own flags. Together with the artist they created a design for the Hoe Garden called ‘The clouds could be like hands joining’, which celebrates the idea of weather bringing change and possibility, friendship and love.
Pupils carried their handmade flags in a procession to the Hoe and the school’s specially designed flag flies alongside two other flags bearing the words ‘GOOD’ and ‘HOPE’.
Two more community designed flags will be raised in the Hoe Garden in September and next spring.
Councillor Brian Vincent, Cabinet Member for Streetscene, said: “We launched the Hoe Garden art commission to help showcase South West artists and provide a new and interesting focal point for visitors to the Hoe each year, as well as celebrate different aspects of Plymouth’s history.
“As part of the initiative we encourage artists to engage with the local community and it’s great that Jo has involved school children in her project. Not only has this given them an insight into an important figure from Plymouth’s past but also a chance to see their creative work on public display.”