The streets of Penzance town centre have received their annual splash of colour with the arrival of the town flags, designed and produced by Liz Tyrrell.
Liz created her first flag back in 1999 and has made hundreds since: first as an assistant and co-worker and since 2017 running the town flag project.
Penzance Council fund the flags every year that fly from buildings in Market Jew Street, Chapel Street, Causeway Head, the Greenmarket, and Alverton Street, as well as the flags that usually fly on the Promenade.
The display of flags incorporates new designs and older flags from the past four years to ensure that these beautiful decorations are as sustainable as possible.
This year, the arrival of the flags is particularly welcome given the current situation with Covid-19 and Liz hopes that they “bring colour to the summer, and hopefully smiles to faces in this oddest of years.”
We caught up with Liz, virtually of course, and asked her about her experiences of designing and producing this year’s flags during lockdown:
How many new flags have you created for 2020?
“In all, 71 new flags were made and 100 repaired from previous years. These include 25 fishermen and 25 farmers from some drawings about Cornish livelihoods. There is also a rainbow to salute the key workers.
20 cyclists were incorporated to welcome the Tour of Britain cycle race in September, although this has now been postponed. There are 4 colours of bicycle on the flags, each cyclist has a different outfit, and all are cycling past St. Michaels’s Mount.”
How do you start making your designs into the finished flags?
“Once it’s decided which designs I’m going to use, I choose a range of colours that will work for that year’s set of flags. I then make templates, which become pattern pieces used to cut the thousands of fabric pieces that make up the flags. The pieces of fabric are jigsawed together to make a picture, which is stitched securely and edged with a pole sleeve and a frill to absorb the worst of the wind.”
How have you found the production process this year during lockdown?
“This year, due to the virus, my cutting colleague and I had to wear masks and keep well apart in the workshop. It felt quite strange going to work when most of the world was locked down.
The flags had to be delivered to the doorsteps of the two sewers, one of whom was taking special precautions to self- isolate, and the other who was sewing after a day’s home schooling!”
When you’re not making flags for Penzance what else do you get up to?
“I construct giant puppets, processional sculptures and lanterns for Golowan, Lafrowda and City of Lights, either as a commission or with school and community groups. I also make costumes for carnival and theatre, paint signs, make banners and backdrops, and make paintings, prints and crafts. I run workshops to teach these things to all age groups in diverse locations. I feel very lucky to have a job I enjoy!”
The flags will remain up throughout the summer for everyone to enjoy.