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Centuries-old flag heritage meets 21st Century 3D printing

A project to design and make new flags for Boston has been launched with an exhibition at the Guildhall.

Boston Unfurled, in the banqueting hall, examines with dramatic effect the history and development of flags and banners, including Boston's own famous twin mermaids crest.

Visitors will be met with a double row of "washing lines" running from one end of the hall to the other, pegged out with printed examples of flags and banners from home and abroad and an explanation of how they have developed over the centuries.

The exhibition, admission free, will take place on Wednesdays to Saturdays, 10.30am to 3.30pm, until Wednesday, February 14, and includes items from the Guildhall archive.

The Boston Hanse Group and Boston arts organisation Transported is to create a set of 20 flags and finials to represent and celebrate Boston today. It is supported by the National Lottery through the Arts Council and Boston Big Local.

They will be created at free community workshops led by artists Ruth Pigott and Kathleen Smith. Ruth introduced Guildhall visitors to the techniques used in producing flags and banners using modern fabrics and techniques and Kathleen spoke about 3D printing for the finials (flagpole tops) and demonstrated 3D prints she had made, including one of Boston's Maud Foster windmill.

Boston Unfurled, which will take place throughout this year, will involve schools and community groups from around the town to create a collection of 20 flags and finials that will be exhibited throughout Boston.

Alison Fairman, chairman of Boston Hanse, said the flags would be used at future community events and festivals and taken abroad to represent Boston at New Hanse events in Europe.

Anyone wanting to take part should email their interest to

Boston rejoined the 190-strong Hanseatic League in 2015, after a 700-year absence. Boston was a warehousing site and trading partner with Hanseatic League countries in medieval times and owed much of its early prosperity to the trade it enjoyed from across the North Sea.
Hanse Day will take place on Saturday, May 26, in Boston Market Place. Workshops will take place from February 20 April follow to keep up to date.

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From left: Artists Ruth Pigott and Kathleen Smith with Melissa Poulson of Transported. Melissa produced the Boston Unfurled prints for the Guildhall exhibition.

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Kathleen and Ruth with examples of their work in the Guildhall.

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Kathleen, left, with a 3D print of the Maud Foster Mill and Ruth with a flag she helped produce for the Swineshead Pageant  "The Final Journey of King John" in 2016.

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Hanse chairman Alison Fairman and part of the Boston Unfurled exhibition which explains the use of Hanseatic flags and banners.