A University of Portsmouth academic has won a prestigious award that will help fund a project about one of the most infamous episodes in modern British history.
Catherine Harper, a Professor of Textiles and Dean of the Faculty of Creative and Cultural Industries, has been chosen as the recipient of the Textile Society’s Critical Writing Award 2016.
It means she will be able to make a return trip to Derry-Londonderry, Northern Ireland, to analyse textiles associated with Bloody Sunday – the 1972 massacre in which British soldiers shot 26 unarmed civilians during a protest march.
Professor Harper has been given permission by the Museum of Free Derry to carry out a detailed study of a blood-stained handkerchief that was used by Father Edward Daly as a ceasefire flag after being removed from the body of Jackie Duddy, 17 – one of 14 killed in the shooting.
An iconic press image of the time shows Father Daly waving the flag as he tries to lead to safety a group of people carrying a fatally wounded man.
Professor Harper said: “I’m delighted and honoured to have been chosen as the recipient of this award, which means I will be able to return to Northern Ireland to continue my work around this textile, which is of enormous cultural and political significance.
“I plan to use dress culture research methodology to engage with the textile, and undertake a novel literary approach inspired by James Fenimore Cooper’s Autobiography of a Pocket Handkerchief, to create a definitive text for publication.”
Professor Harper also hopes to create a short piece for radio or TV as part of her Stained and Bloodied Clothes of Ireland series.