Below is a gallery of the 30 hand-painted silk flags created by over 200 people from groups across Milton Keynes, working with creative company Kinetika, and Milton Keynes artists Jane Charles and Ciara Callaghan.
Participating Groups: Broughton & Brooklands Community Connectors, Camphill Communities, The Frank Moran Centre, Friends & Families MK, GrandMentors from Volunteering Matters, The Milton Keynes Hindu Association, MK ACT, MK Collective: Artists & Makers, Sew & Grow and Childcare Pathways, and YMCA Milton Keynes.
These flags were dispayed as part of the Festival at The Milton Keynes Rose in Campbell Park from Friday 16 - Sunday 18 July and again from Friday 23 - Sunday 25 July 2021.
Read more about the MK Mandalas project
Watch the film about the project and the making of MK Mandalas:
The flags were created around five themes, listed below, and are shown clustered in groups of six under their theme. The positioning of the flags at The Milton Keynes Rose also reflects this.
Each theme inspired a line-drawing 'template' which formed the basis for the flag designs, which were adorned with pictures, words and images, created by the groups in workshops and online sessions.
Theme: Coming Together
The template for the Coming Together series of six flags was based on the design of The Milton Keynes Rose - the inspiration behind the MK Mandalas project and a place to come together for celebration, commemoration and contemplation. Designed by internationally renowned artist Gordon Young, The Milton Keynes Rose is a vast and impressive open-air circle, using mandalas and markings based on the mathematical beauty of a flower.
"There are 4 households with about 20 residents, directly involved in the Flag project from Camphill Communities, however we have used images/drawings from all residents who attend the Art&Craft workshop, about 40-50 residents. Camphill has big gardens and there are many natures around us so it was very natural to choose a theme about nature (Flag 9). 'Coming together' (Flag 4)- we are the community. We were looking forward to be together with all of us in the communities, families and friends again. 'Saying thank you' (Flag 19) is to say thank you for all people who have been supporting our communities, families and friends during the pandemic." Camphill Communities
Theme: Getting Outdoors
Template Design: Emma Gatehouse
This template for the Getting Outdoors flags evolved from a fixed point in Emma's garden during lockdown - a time of acute human significance. It is inspited by the passing of time ‘as ever’ in our natural world, the waxing and waning of the Moon through the seasons, and the prominent constellations visible due to ‘out of time’ low light pollution.
"Our Mandala tells the story of the journey of our Earth from the beginning of time till today. There is a Lotus flower in the centre. The snake and the fish represent the creator, the destroyer and the sustainer of the universe as per Hindu culture (lord Brahma, Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu respectively). Plants, birds and animals became part of the Earth. DNA represents the humans and how we evolved and started ruling on nature, deforestation etc. Then Covid happened and we realised the worth and importance of nature, our well being, the importance of family." Milton Keynes Hindu Association, about Flag No 12 above
Theme: Appreciating Nature
Template Design: Lesley Gott
Inspired by family and our connection to nature, Lesley's template for the Appreciating Nature flags has the Medicine Wheel by Roy Littlesun (2000) at its heart. This public artwork, consisting of two stone circles, is located at Willen Lake and is about bringing people together in peace and harmony. Lesley's template design pays tribute to meeting in nature, and appreciating what and who we have around us.
"We enjoyed coming along to make the flags and the whole creative experience. We had never pressed flowers before so learnt a new skill, and using the hammer was quite therapeutic! We also enjoyed the additional crafts, especially making dream makers." The Frank Moran Centre
"The YMCA Milton Keynes found working on the Kinetika Flags project, with our textile artist Jane Charles, a great chance to think about who we are and to enjoy something much needed time outside together, creativiely experimenting with Mandalas." YMCA Milton Keynes
Theme: Saying Thank you
This template for the Saying Thank You flags is based on the representation of the division of a circle and sharing. So many of the groups had included rainbows in their Saying Thank You flag concepts - to thank the NHS and Care sector for their work throught the Covid-19 pandemic - that Kinetika chose this template as they felt the repeated rainbow worked well as a link through all of the flags.
"During lockdown, to lessen isolation for our clients, we had set up a weekly 'Coffee and Craft morning' zoom, so those who were unable to see each other could meet virtually for an hour and chat whilst being creative. When we were approached to take part in the Flag Project, it seemed an ideal opportunity to incorporate this into our weekly sessions. At first we were a bit unsure what to do, but with Jane’s guidance soon got the hang of it and came up with lots of ideas that fitted with the theme of the project, but were significant to those taking part and the organisation too. It was good that everyone could have an input, and one suggestion would spark lots of ideas from others. The finished flags look fantastic! We’re really pleased to have been part of the project." MK ACT
Theme: Moving Forward
Template Design: Jan Harrington
Think of MK and you think of roads and roundabouts. Not only as a means of travelling from A to B, but as a reflection of the direction and change within our own lives. Jan Harrington works in mark-making - her sketches of lines and circles became a template design that makes sense within the flags and their Milton Keynes setting. "Watching the project grow from a collection of ideas and drawings to a beautiful completed work of art is a reminder of what can be achieved by individuals working as a team."
"The workshop was a great opportunity for both our young people and some of our mentors to get out and engage in a small group setting after many months of no face-to-face meetings or activities. Everyone really enjoyed the workshop and that variety of different mediums they got to try, from making dream catchers and doing some body painting, to contributing designs and pictures to be included on the Flags. Ciara was an amazing facilitator, she was very in tune with the variety of special needs within the group and created an atmosphere where everyone felt comfortable, relaxed and able to express themselves. The feedback from all involved was really positive. Thank-you so much!" GrandMentors
"The Sew & Grow Mandala design reflects who we are as individuals, collaborators and activists. We all contributed a personal image to symbolise our identity, beliefs or our dreams. Collectively, we used the symbols and motifs of our trade to demonstrate our joint goals and aims." Sew and Grow and Childcare Pathways
MK Mandalas film made by Factotum. All Flag photos by Mark Massey for Kinetika.